Mexico Confirms Its First Cases of Coronavirus

Mariana Lopez-Mejia, MD

February 28, 2020

MEXICO CITY — The first case of coronavirus in Mexico has been confirmed, the country's health authorities said today. 

The first case is a 35-year-old patient from Mexico City with mild clinical manifestations and a history of travel to Italy in February, according to Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez, MD, PhD, at a press conference. The patient is currently hospitalized at the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases (INER) in Mexico City.

On Thursday, the deputy health minister said that authorities were awaiting the test results of a second sample from the Institute of Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference (InDRE); those results were reported as positive today.

During the press conference, López-Gatell Ramirez added that the patient's eight close contacts are asymptomatic and isolated following the local protocol. 

A second case, in the state of Sinaloa, was identified as a 41-year-old man from Hidalgo with a history of travel to Italy. He is currently isolated in his hotel room in Sinaloa with a close contact.   

In addition, it was reported that the two cases of patients with respiratory disease on a cruise ship docked in Cozumel Thursday were ruled out for coronavirus infection; they tested positive for influenza.  

Mitigation Strategy

López-Gatell Ramirez stressed that, as established by the strategic plan of preparation and response from the World Health Organization (WHO), the objective is to limit transmission. To do this, patients need to be identified, isolated, and treated early, including providing optimized care for infected patients.

Another important aspect is the communication of critical information about risks and events to all communities, and to counteract misinformation.

During Thursday's press conference on coronavirus, López-Gatell Ramirez stressed that the mitigation strategy consists of "limiting or reducing damage, impacts, and transmission speed. Containing the spread is not the goal....The aim is to limit 'damage,' meaning to reduce the speed of transmission, protect the most vulnerable populations, ensure a prompt and effective medical attention, and following up the epidemiologic studies to identify close contacts so that secondary transmission can be interrupted." 

Preventive Actions

López-Gatell Ramirez stressed the importance of prevention through the application of basic hygiene measures, as well as avoiding shaking hands and coughing into one's elbow. 

As of February 28, no measures are being implemented beyond the monitoring of general hygiene measures, the deputy health minister stressed.

The highest risk groups are adults older than 60, children under 5, patients with chronic disease (pulmonary, diabetes, heart disease, immunodeficiency diseases, etc). Coronoavirus treatment is supportive by controlling the signs and symptoms, and monitoring advanced cases that require hospitalization. 

According to Thursday's technical statement, 22 suspected cases in Mexico have thus far been ruled out.

Information for local health professionals, including guidelines for patient care for COVID-19 and infection transmission prevention for people with COVID-19, can be found on the official website of the Mexican Ministry of Health.

This article originally appeared in Medscape's Spanish edition .

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