MADRID (AFP) - Spanish health authorities said on Thursday (Feb 27) they were investigating the first suspected cases of local transmission of the deadly coronavirus in the country, including an elderly man who was in "serious" condition in hospital.
Three people are in hospital - two in Madrid and one in Seville - with the flu-like disease and have no known travel to a country with an outbreak of the virus, said the chief coordinator for health emergencies at Spain's health ministry.
Neither did they have any connection to a known patient, health emergencies coordinator Fernando Simon told a news conference.
"Their possible ties with cases outside of Spain, or imported cases are being investigated," he said.
All of the 12 other cases of coronavirus currently being treated in Spain involve people who had travelled from Italy, the European hot spot for the disease.
If it is confirmed that the disease is now spreading from person to person within Spain, the government would have to take extra measures to prevent further contagions, such as "reducing large gatherings", Mr Simon said.
One of the two suspected cases of local transmission in Madrid is a 77-year-old man in a "serious" condition in an intensive care unit, the regional government of Madrid said in a statement.
The other is a 50-year-old man who is in a "stable" condition.
Local officials in the southern region of Andalusia reported Spain's first suspected case of local transmission of coronavirus on Wednesday in a 62-year-old man who is in isolation at a Seville hospital.
"The fact that it has not been possible to determine where he became infected means the virus may have circulated for a while in Andalusia," Mr Simon said during an interview with radio Onda Cero earlier on Thursday.
Since the start of the epidemic Spain has recorded 17 cases of coronavirus, 15 since Monday.