Passengers wearing protective masks are seen at the International Airport in Mexico City, Mexico, Feb. 28, 2020.
Passengers wearing protective masks are seen at the International Airport in Mexico City, Mexico, Feb. 28, 2020.

Mexican health authorities announced Friday that they had confirmed the first two cases of coronavirus in Mexico. 

A man in Mexico City who recently visited Italy tested positive Friday, and another patient was confirmed in the northern state of Sinaloa. Brazil is the only other country that has coronavirus in Latin America.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday confirmed two more cases of the coronavirus among Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, bringing the tally among evacuees to 44.

The CDC's head of respiratory diseases, Nancy Messonnier, on a conference call with reporters, also mentioned one new case confirmed in California "could be the first instance of community spread," but noted it was also possible the patient could have had exposure to a returned traveler. 

Mesonnier said the agency's goal was to have every state testing with the CDC's coronavirus test kits by the end of next week.

Drop in Chinese cases

She also welcomed news that the number of new coronavirus cases had dropped in the center of the outbreak, China.

"We hope that is a trend that continues. ... It will help us learn what we can better do in the United States to continue to control the spread here," Messonnier said.

China's National Health Commission reported 327 new cases and 44 deaths early Friday — the lowest number of new cases in more than a month.

But the number in South Korea, the hardest-hit country outside China, reached 2,337, with 571 new cases and 16 deaths. Most of the cases were in Daegu, the South's fourth-largest city. 

Also Friday, the coronavirus emerged in at least five other countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Lithuania, New Zealand and Nigeria. 

The case in Nigeria, detected in the economic capital, Lagos, was the first case in sub-Saharan Africa and the third to be confirmed in Africa. Nigerian officials said the case involved an Italian citizen who entered the country this week.

In Azerbaijan, a Russian citizen who had arrived from Iran was confirmed with the virus, and in Belarus an Iranian student who arrived from Azerbaijan tested positive.

People wearing protective masks walk on street in Minsk, Belarus, Feb. 28, 2020. Azerbaijan, Belarus, Lithuania, New Zealand and Nigeria have reported their first cases of coronavirus.

Lithuania said a woman who returned this week from a visit to Italy had tested positive.

New Zealand confirmed its first coronavirus case, saying a recent arrival from Iran had tested positive.

In the Netherlands, the first case was confirmed late Thursday and another Friday. Both had recently traveled in northern Italy.

At least 46 countries are reporting cases, and governments in Asia, Europe and the Middle East were taking extraordinary steps to contain the virus.

The United States and South Korea called off joint military drills. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered schools to close at least through March.

A sign advertising protective face masks is marked "Sold out" inside a store in Berlin, Germany, Feb. 28, 2020.

About 1,000 people were in quarantine in Germany's most populous state, as the number of confirmed cases in Europe's biggest economy exceeded 50.

California health officials said they were monitoring 8,400 people for symptoms after their arrival on domestic flights.

Australian doctors warned the public health system could be overwhelmed in the event of a pandemic, a day after the government launched its emergency response program.

As of Friday, there were more than 83,670 coronavirus cases worldwide, and more than 2,865 deaths.

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