RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil has confirmed eight cases of the new coronavirus as of Thursday, including the first instances of likely local transmission, as the infectious disease spreads up the coast to tourist hotspot Rio de Janeiro and neighbouring Espirito Santo state, the Health Ministry said.
That is up from three cases on Wednesday. Currently, six of the cases are in Sao Paulo state, while Rio and Espirito Santo states have one case each, the ministry said.
The ministry said that it has registered the first cases of the virus being transmitted within the country, whereas previous infections were among people who contracted the virus abroad and then travelled to Brazil.
Two people contracted the virus from a Sao Paulo man who was the country’s first confirmed case.
A 13-year-old boy is also among the newly confirmed cases. He tested positive despite not showing symptoms, the ministry said.
The cases in Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo states are women aged 27 and 35 who had travelled to Italy, one of the nations hardest hit by the respiratory illness that emerged in China in December and is now in some 80 countries and territories.
A ninth unconfirmed case in the Distrito Federal, where Brazil’s capital Brasilia is located, is under investigation.
Beyond that, Brazil has 636 suspected cases of the disease.
There have been more than 95,000 cases of the illness caused by coronavirus worldwide and over 3,200 deaths, mostly in China.
Reporting by Deborah Moreira in Rio de Janerio and Gabriel Araujo in Sao Paulo; Writing by Jake Spring; Editing by Bill Berkrot