Italy, one of the coronavirus hotspots outside of Asia, has more than 2,500 infections and at least 79 deaths. With the Italian tourists, India's official case total stands at 28.

An Indian man with symptoms fills a form at a coronavirus help desk at the Government Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad, India. March 2, 2020.
An Indian man with symptoms fills a form at a coronavirus help desk at the Government Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad, India. March 2, 2020. (AP)

A group of Italian tourists have been put in quarantine in India after at least 15 tested positive for the novel coronavirus, taking the country's total to 28, Indian media quoted the health minister as saying on Wednesday.

At least six people linked to an earlier case in capital New Delhi are part of those who tested positive, Scroll.in reported.

Italy is one of the major hotspots of the deadly virus outside China, with 79 deaths and more than 2,500 infected. Cases linked to the northern Italy epicentre have been found in several European countries and Brazil.

"There is no need to panic. We need to work together, take small yet important measures to ensure self-protection," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Tuesday.

"Had an extensive review regarding preparedness on the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. Different ministries & states are working together, from screening people arriving in India to providing prompt medical attention," he said.

After two out of a group of 23 Italian tourists who arrived in the country last month tested positive in the western state of Rajasthan, the other 21 were put under quarantine in a special facility in New Delhi on Tuesday.

India has now stepped up preventative measures including barring visitors from Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan, except diplomats and officials from international bodies.

Medical shortages

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday of a global shortage and price gouging for protective equipment to fight the fast-spreading coronavirus. WHO asked companies and governments to increase production by 40 percent as the death toll from the respiratory illness mounted.

Worldwide around 3,200 people have died from the virus with more than 90,000 infections, with China, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan the worst affected.

Indonesia fears panic buying after first coronavirus cases

Indonesian police seized over half a million face masks from a Jakarta-area warehouse after the country's first confirmed cases of coronavirus sparked panic buying and sent prices for prevention products skyrocketing.

Authorities were questioning two people after the Tuesday evening raid at a warehouse in satellite city Tangerang, where nearly 600,000 surgical masks were found.

The owners did not have permission to distribute the masks, police said.

"Mask prices have skyrocketed everywhere and there are shortages, most likely because hoarders are trying to make money at the public's expense," Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus said on Wednesday.

Those convicted of hoarding masks could face up to five years in jail and hefty fines, police said.

The warehouse raid came after hundreds of boxes of surgical masks were also seized Tuesday at a Jakarta apartment.

And police said they busted a factory at the weekend allegedly making and distributing counterfeit masks that did not meet health standards

"Those masks are useless," Yunus said.

Knife drawn over loo rolls as rationing hits Australia

Australia's biggest supermarket on Wednesday announced a limit on toilet paper purchases after the global spread of coronavirus sparked a spate of panic buying Down Under.

Woolworths said the restriction of four packs of toilet paper per person would apply "to ensure more customers have access to the products".

Hand sanitisers will also be sold from behind the service counter and restricted to two per person.

"It will help shore up stock levels as suppliers ramp up local production and deliveries in response to higher-than-usual demand," the company said in a statement.

Despite government assurances, there has been a run on some items at Australian supermarkets, with images on social media purportedly showing shelves stripped of goods and shoppers piling trolleys high with toilet paper.

Police had to be called to a Sydney supermarket at lunchtime Wednesday when a knife was drawn in a toilet paper aisle.

New South Wales Police confirmed officers went to the western Sydney supermarket but said there were no arrests and no injuries.

It is believed a knife was raised in the air by a startled hearing- and speech-impaired customer during a heated exchange over toilet rolls.

Retailers have also experienced shortages of masks and hand sanitisers sparked by fears over the deadly coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 90,000 people and killed more than 3,100.

Australia has reported 43 confirmed cases of the virus, including one death.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had spoken to the country's two major supermarket chains –– Woolworths and its rival Coles –– about their resp onse to panic buying.

"I can understand why people may be concerned, and go to supermarkets, and do those sorts of things. But the advice is that's not necessary," he told 2GB Radio on Wednesday.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies