UPDATE 1-LATAM Airlines says employee contracted first coronavirus case in Peru

(Recasts with news that LATAM Airlines employee is first case of coronavirus in Peru)

LIMA, March 6 (Reuters) - LATAM Airlines said on Friday that an earlier first confirmed case of the new coronavirus in Peru had been contracted by one of the carrier’s employees.

Peru reported the case earlier on Friday, through a televised statement by President Martin Vizcarra, as the disease begins to spread around South America.

The patient is a 25-year-old man who had traveled to Spain, France and the Czech Republic, Vizcarra added.

LATAM said in its statement that the employee had been vacationing in Europe and had traveled through other airlines.

After returning to Peru, the memo said, the employee had not come back to work and had not had contact with other LATAM employees.

LATAM is South America’s largest carrier and is headquartered in Chile. Like other global airlines, its shares have come under heavy pressure in recent weeks as the virus has spread beyond China. On Friday, they were down another 3.6%.

South American neighbors Argentina and Chile also announced their first confirmed cases this week, while a number of cases have been confirmed in Brazil. (Reporting by Marco Aquino in Lima and Marcelo Rochabrun in Sao Paulo; Editing by Christian Plumb)