Brazil confirmed a case of the fast-spreading Chinese coronavirus within its borders on Wednesday, marking the first incident of the contagious disease in Latin America.
The diagnosis comes amid Brazil’s annual Carnaval holiday, which attracts people from various corners of the world. Millions of revelers celebrate across major cities in the Latin American country.
Brazil’s coronavirus case will allow health officials to study the disease’s behavior in a warm climate. Health officials are not sure if warm weather will slow the spread of coronavirus or kill it off altogether.
“We will now see how this virus behaves in a tropical country in the middle of summer, how its behavior pattern will be,” Brazil’s Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta declared, according to the Associated Press (AP).
On Tuesday, Brazil’s Health Ministry issued a statement identifying a 61-year-old Sao Paulo resident who recently spent two weeks [February 9 to 21] in Lombardy, Italy, as Latin America’s first confirmed case of coronavirus.
Italy, where the Brazilian resident contracted the contagious virus, is the European country most heavily affected by the outbreak, with more than 350 reported cases and 11 deaths.
“Lombardy is the epicenter of the outbreak in Italy, and there have been hundreds of confirmed cases there as well as several deaths,” AP reports.
The Brazilian man has shown symptoms compatible with the disease, such as a dry cough, throat pain, and flu symptoms, the health ministry said.
“Authorities had already said on Tuesday that a first laboratory test for Covid-19 [coronavirus] had a positive result, and were waiting for a second test to confirm,” AP notes, adding:
[The infected Brazilian] is now said to be in a stable condition and in isolation at home in Sao Paulo. Brazil’s national health agency Anvisa has been working to map all contact the man had with other people in hospital, at home, and on the plane returning to Brazil. It has requested the flight manifest to investigate other possible cases.
The viral coronavirus outbreak originated in China. It has infected over 80,000 people across the globe, killing more than 2,700 of them.
U.S. health officials have reportedly warned that coronavirus will likely become a global pandemic.
“Current global circumstances suggest it’s likely this virus will cause a pandemic,” Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told reporters on Tuesday.
“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of when this will happen and how many people in this country will become infected and how many of those will develop severe or more complicated disease,” she added.
The CDC urged the public to prepare for an eventual U.S.-based outbreak.
Citing the World Health Organization (WHO), Marketwatch notes that the virus is starting to act like global economic pandemic, adding that the “financial costs are mounting.”
The U.S. stock market plunged as a result of the outbreak.