A 61-year-old man from São Paulo who returned recently from a business trip to Italy has tested positive for the coronavirus, Brazilian health officials said on Wednesday, confirming the first known case in Latin America.
Officials were scrambling on Wednesday to track down the other passengers on the flight the man took to Brazil and to find others who had contact with him in recent days. The infection news broke just as Brazil’s Carnival celebrations have begun, with many foreign visitors arriving.
The diagnosis was announced by the health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who added that Brazil was investigating 20 additional cases, including 12 patients who recently traveled to Italy.
The man was said to have traveled to northern Italy from Feb. 9-21. Although the virus originated in China, there has been a surge of cases in Italy, most notably in the northern region of Lombardy, and the illness has now spread to several countries in Europe.