BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia confirmed its first case of coronavirus on Friday, joining other South American countries that have reported cases of the fast-spreading disease.
The virus broke out in Wuhan, China, late last year and has since infected more than 100,000 people worldwide.
The patient, age 19, had visited Milan, Italy, the Health Ministry said in a statement posted on Twitter. She sought medical care after presenting symptoms of the virus, the ministry added, without providing further details.
“The country can be safe in the knowledge that we are working in a controlled and efficient way to confront this situation, which we have been anticipating for several weeks,” Health Minister Fernando Ruiz told journalists. He said all healthcare facilities have instructions on handling the virus.
The patient, a student, had returned from Milan to Bogota on Feb. 26 and was seen at Santa Fe hospital on March 2, the city’s mayor, Claudia Lopez, said on Twitter.
Italy has had the highest level of coronavirus infections outside of Asia.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the disease has been reported in some 90 countries, leading to about 3,400 deaths, most of which have been in mainland China. The WHO’s figures have generally lagged behind tallies compiled by news organizations including Reuters.
As of Friday, more than 100,300 people had been infected globally, according to a Reuters tally based on statements from health ministries and government officials.
All countries should make containing the outbreak their top priority, the WHO said on Friday, while warning that there was no evidence the spread would wane during the approaching summer months in the northern hemisphere.
In Italy, the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has risen by 49 to 197, the country’s Civil Protection Agency said on Friday, the largest daily increase in fatalities since the contagion was uncovered there two weeks ago.
Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb, Oliver Griffin and Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by Tom Brown and Leslie Adler
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