MALE (Reuters) - The Maldives on Saturday reported its first two confirmed cases of new coronavirus, and placed two of its island resorts under lockdown, as authorities conducted further tests to try to limit the spread of the disease.
The two infected people are believed to have caught the disease from an Italian tourist who has returned to Italy and tested positive there.
"These two cases which tested positive are from a resort. They are employees of the resort and are now quarantined," said Ali Waheed, the tourism minister of the island nation, the economy of which is heavily dependent on foreign tourists.
In a press release earlier on Saturday, the Maldives Health Protection Agency said two French nationals on a second island who showed symptoms of the disease had also been placed in isolation on Saturday.
Health authorities said they had stopped travel to and from the Kuredu Island Resort and the Summer Island resort, while officials conduct contact tracing and take necessary precautions.
It was not immediately clear how many tourists were under lockdown on each of the islands.
Summer Island confirmed in a statement that it had been placed under temporary quarantine while it awaits test results on the two guests and a resort doctor, an Indian national who also began to show symptoms after treating the two guests.
Officials at the Kuredu Island Resort were not immediately reachable for comment.
On Saturday, the Maldives also said passengers originating from or who had transited through or spent any time in Italy in the preceding 14 days would not be permitted entry into the country from Sunday, March 8.
(Reporting by Mohamed Junayd; Editing by Euan Rocha, Kevin Liffey and James Drummond)