Mexico confirms first 3 cases of coronavirus, linked to Italy

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Mexico's health ministry said the country has confirmed three cases of the coronavirus, becoming the second Latin American nation reached by the global outbreak.

The three men – two in Mexico City and one in the northern state of Sinaloa – are all believed to have visited northern Italy, the epicenter of the virus in Europe.

"Probably all three were infected from the same source. All three are imported cases," Jose Luis Alomia, general director of epidemiology at the Ministry of Health, said at a press conference Friday, February 28.

Senior health ministry official Hugo Lopez-Gatell told a separate news conference that one of the men, a 35-year-old in the capital, "has a mild, mild illness" with symptoms "similar to that of a cold".

"He is a young individual and so he is at very low risk," he said. (READ: Borders stay open as Italy coronavirus outbreak spreads south)

The patient and five members of his family have been isolated at the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases, Lopez-Gatell added.

The second case, a 41-year-old man who returned from Bergamo in Italy, is in isolation at a hotel in Sinaloa after being tested by regional authorities, officials said.

A 59-year-old man in Mexico City who also visited northern Italy is the third case but authorities did not say whether he had been hospitalized.

Italy has recorded 650 cases of the coronavirus and 17 deaths across cities in the north.

In Mexico, two more, suspected cases are under analysis in the central state of Guanajuato and one in northwestern Durango.

"It is not a national or health emergency," Lopez-Gatell said, urging Mexicans to remain calm and not panic-buy protective items such as masks.

Mexico is the second Latin American nation to confirm coronavirus infections after Brazil said it had a case on Wednesday. 

More than 50 countries have now reported cases worldwide.

The virus has infected more than 85,000 people and over 2,900 have died – mostly in China where the epidemic started. – Rappler.com