Dr. Hugo Lopez-Gatell, one of Mexico’s undersecretaries for health, announced on Friday that America’s southern neighbor has two confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Lopez-Gatell, speaking on behalf of the Mexican government, stated that one of the patients is currently in Mexico City while the other is in an undisclosed location in the northwestern state of Sinaloa.
The first case, a 35-year-old Italian man residing in Mexico City, showed a positive initial test result, which was then confirmed by a second test. The man is currently in isolation, and five of his family members who have been in contact with him have also been placed under quarantine and are “under analysis.”
The second case, a 41-year-old man, who traveled with the first case to Italy, also showed a positive initial test result. However, the Mexican health department is still waiting on the results of a second test. Lopez-Gatell has stated that they are treating the case as basically confirmed. The patient is currently being kept in isolation at a hotel.
According to Spanish news website Infobae, the two men probably contracted the disease during their visit to the city of Bergamo, in the northern Italian region of Lombardy. Italy currently has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of Asia, with their government website reporting 888 confirmed cases, 21 deaths and 46 recoveries, as of writing.
During the visit of the two men, they confirmed that they had been in direct contact with an Italian person who lived in Malaysia. The two men returned to Mexico sometime between February 14 and 22.
As the Mexican government urges the public to remain calm, their president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (referred to as AMLO) is downplaying the seriousness of the outbreak. He has been quoted as saying that “it isn’t even equivalent to flu,” which has infected far more people and has a lower mortality rate than COVID-19.
“I repeat, according to the available information, it is not something terrible, fatal,” said AMLO. “There shouldn’t be any yellow journalism, or exaggerations, to cause a mass psychosis of fear, of terror.” (Related: Costco runs out of “emergency food kits” following coronavirus outbreak.)
However, perhaps as a way to water down his own dismissal of the situation, he has also stated that the Mexican government is prepared to handle the coming crisis. “We have the doctors, the specialists, the hospitals, the capacity to face this.”
In addition to the almost nightly news conferences that AMLO holds, his health ministry has also pledged to hold nightly press briefings to keep the Mexican public updated with the situation.
Along with Mexico, February 28 saw six other countries report on their first confirmed cases of COVID-19: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Iceland, Lithuania, Monaco and New Zealand.
Russian news website Interfax stated that a Russian citizen who arrived in Azerbaijan from Iran is the country’s first COVID-19 case. The patient is currently stable and is confined in a hospital.
In Belarus, an international student who recently came home from Iran has been confirmed to be the Eastern European country’s first case. The Belarussian Ministry of Healthcare reported their findings after a series of tests conducted the previous day.
According to Iceland’s Directorate of Health, their first COVID-19 case is an Icelandic male in his forties who recently returned from a trip to Northern Italy, where he most likely caught the disease. He is currently confined in Landspitali, the country’s only university hospital.
In a tweet, the Principality of Monaco’s Department of Health and Social Affairs confirmed that a Monegasque man currently confined in the Princess Grace Hospital Centre tested positive for COVID-19. To avoid panic, they have also stated that this shouldn’t be a cause for concern for the city state smaller than New York’s Central Park.
Les autorités sanitaires de la Principauté ont été informées qu’une personne prise en charge dans la matinée et conduite au Centre Hospitalier Princesse Grace était positive au COVID 19.Son état de santé n’inspire pas d’inquiétude. pic.twitter.com/FAFqdDOdll
— Gouvernement Monaco (@GvtMonaco) February 28, 2020
In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that a New Zealander in their 60s who recently traveled to Iran tested positive for COVID-19. The person’s condition is reportedly improving, however they are still being kept in isolation in Auckland Hospital in the country’s most populated city.
Lastly, while they aren’t sovereign countries in their own right, Wales and Quebec, within the U.K. and Canada, respectively, have also confirmed their first cases of COVID-19. The Welsh patient had traveled to Italy, and efforts are being taken to identify and quarantine anybody who had come into close contact with him. The Quebecois patient, meanwhile, is a woman who recently returned from a trip to Iran.
COVID-19 is spreading rapidly worldwide. To keep up with the latest news on the outbreak, visit Pandemic.news today.