March 2, 2020 / 12:18 PM / in a month

India reports two more cases of coronavirus, taking tally to five

BENGALURU (Reuters) - India reported two more cases of coronavirus on Monday, taking the number of people who have tested positive in the country to five, and hammering already rocky stock markets.

FILE PHOTO: People wearing masks are seen at Chennai International Airport, India, January 30, 2020. REUTERS/P. Ravikumar

One of the new cases was detected in the capital, New Delhi, while the other was in the southern state of Telangana, the government said in a statement.

The patients had a travel history from Italy and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, respectively, the government said. Both patients were stable and being closely monitored.

“The government is monitoring the situation at the highest-level,” Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told a briefing in New Delhi.

Authorities were screening travellers arriving from 12 countries, Vardhan said, adding that more than 1 million people had been screened on the border with Nepal.

Indian shares sank sharply on the news, ending lower for the seventh straight session. [.BO]

The NSE Nifty 50 index erased gains of up to 2% to close 0.62% lower. The rupee was 0.07% weaker at 72.4300 against the dollar.

The coronavirus, which was identified in China late last year, has quickly spread to dozens of countries, killing nearly 3,000 people and disrupting global business supply chains.

India is the world’s second most heavily populated country after China. The government has advised Indians to refrain from non-essential travel to the worst affected countries, including China, South Korea, Iran and Italy.

Meanwhile, the three other patients who had tested positive for coronavirus in India have all been discharged from hospital, and were in quarantine in their homes, the government in Kerala state said last week.

All three had returned from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicentre of the outbreak.

U.S. intelligence agencies are monitoring the global spread of coronavirus and the ability of governments to respond, sources told Reuters last week, warning that there were concerns about how India would cope with a widespread outbreak.

Additional reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal in NEW DELHI and Chris Thomas in BENGALURU; Editing by Toby Chopra and Raju Gopalakrishnan

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