Health and Science

Brazil Health Ministry confirms first coronavirus case in Latin America

Lisandra Paraguassu
Key Points
  • The Brazilian government confirmed the first case of a fast-spreading new coronavirus in Latin America, officials from the Brazil Health Ministry said Wednesday.
  • The diagnosis comes during Brazil's carnival holiday, a peak time for domestic travel when millions of revelers throng to major cities for raucous street celebrations.
  • Brazil is tracking 20 suspected cases of the virus in the country, health officials told reporters at a news briefing.
Tourists at Galeao International Airport, north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 7 February 2020.
Fabio Teixeira | NurPhoto | Getty Images

A Brazilian government test has confirmed the first case of a fast-spreading new coronavirus in Latin America, officials from the Brazil Health Ministry said Wednesday, after a Sao Paulo hospital flagged the possible infection of a 61-year-old who had visited Italy.

The diagnosis comes during Brazil's carnival holiday, a peak time for domestic travel when millions of revelers throng to major cities for raucous street celebrations.

Brazil is tracking 20 suspected cases of the virus in the country, health officials told reporters at a news briefing Wednesday.

The ministry said in a statement on Tuesday evening it was looking into the case of a Sao Paulo resident who had traveled to Lombardy, in northern Italy, from Feb. 9 to Feb. 21 and had symptoms compatible with the disease.

Italy has been hardest hit by the outbreak in Europe, with more than 350 cases reported and 11 deaths.

The Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo said that the man tested positive to a PCR real time test on Monday and it notified Sao Paulo state's epidemiological agency on Tuesday.

-- CNBC's Will Feuer contributed to this report.