Mexico’s government said on Friday it had detected the first cases of coronavirus infection in two men who had recently travelled to Italy, making the country the second in Latin America to register the virus.
A 35-year-old man who showed positive in an initial test in Mexico City went through a second test that turned up positive results early on Friday, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell Ramirez told a regular news conference.
The man was linked to the second case, a 41-year-old in the northern state of Sinaloa, Lopez-Gatell told reporters, speaking alongside President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Lopez Obrador urged the population to remain calm and said officials would report daily on the progress of cases.
“We have the capacity to handle this situation,” he said.
Mexico’s main stock index tumbled more than 3% soon after market opening on Friday while the peso fell by more than 1% against the dollar.
Both of the men confirmed with coronavirus were in Italy for about a week in mid-February, and likely became infected at a convention in the northern city of Bergamo, the government said in a visual presentation at the news conference.
The two were being held in isolation, one in a hospital and the other in a hotel in Sinaloa, Lopez-Gatell said. Two other people who had been in contact with the infected men were under observation, one in isolation, the government said.
For now, there were no grounds for closing schools or having people stay away from their workplaces, Lopez-Gatell said.
“There’s absolutely no reason at this point,” he added. “There is no generalized transmission.”
Still, Lopez-Gatell recommended that people refrain from giving each other light hugs and kisses on the cheek that are commonplace greetings in Mexico.
Previously, Brazil had been the only country in Latin America to report a case of the new coronavirus.