Italian tourist tests positive for Coronavirus in Jaipur

The two patients, one from Delhi and the other from Telangana, were reportedly stable and are being monitored.
A health desk is set up to screen travelers for signs of the coronavirus at Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport in Agartala. Photo: REUTERS/Jayanta Dey/File Photo

New Delhi: India on Monday reported three new cases of the novel coronavirus, including one from the national capital, the Union Health Ministry said as the government stepped up its efforts to detect and check the infection which has killed more than 3,000 people globally.

An Italian national tested positive for Coronavirus in Rajasthan, a hospital official in state capital Jaipur  said on Monday, taking the number of people who have tested positive in the country to six.

The patient had initially tested negative for the virus but a second test came out positive, a hospital official told Reuters, declining to be named since he is not authorised to speak to the media.

"The patient has been moved to an isolation ward," the official said, adding that a third test would be conducted.

Separately on Monday, the government said two other people had tested positive for the coronavirus. The news hammered already rocky stock markets.

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

The New Delhi patient had been in Italy and the one in Telangana had been Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, the government said; both were stable and being closely monitored.

"Both the patients had self-reported after they developed symptoms. They tested positive. They are stable and being closely monitored," Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told a briefing in New Delhi.

The person in Delhi had self-reported at the RML hospital after returning to India while the one in Telangana had initially gone to a private medical facility and then was referred to a government hospital in the state, the minister said.

As part of the government's contact tracing efforts to control spread of the epidemic, authorities are in touch with the family members and employees in the offices where the two infected persons work.

Vardhan also advised people to avoid non-essential travel to Iran, Italy, South Korea and Singapore and said India was in discussions with authorities in Iran and Italy, two countries badly affected by the infection, to evacuate Indians there.

India had earlier reported three cases from Kerala, including two medical students from Wuhan in China, the epicentre of the deadly novel coronavirus. They had self-reported on their return to the country and tested positive for the infection. They were discharged from hospitals last month following recovery.

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.

In Jaipur, the hospital official said that at least 15 doctors, staff and patients who may have come into contact with the Italian patient would be tested.

The health minister, who held a meeting of the Group of Ministers constituted to monitor the current status and actions for prevention and management of the virus, said India has already suspended e-visas/visas issued to Iranian and Chinese nationals over the rising number of confirmed COVID-19 patients in these countries.

"Depending on the situation, visa restrictions may be extended to other countries," he said.

Asked if there could be a drug shortage in the country as around 70 per cent of the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) come from China, Vardhan said he has spoken to the minister in-charge who has informed that "we are adequately prepared to deal with the situation as of now".

Vardhan said around 1,086 people who returned from Iran in recent times have been recommended for community surveillance.

Vardhan also advised people to take precautions and in case of any symptoms report to the nearest public health facility. People may pose their queries at the Health Ministry's 24x7 Control Room at 011-23978046 or email at, he added.

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.

US 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.

(With Reuters and PTI inputs)

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