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British Airways Says Two Employees Test Positive for Coronavirus

Public Health officials in England say two British Airways employees have been isolated after testing positive for the coronavirus.

British Airways has taken two of its staff out of circulation after the pair were found to have contracted the coronavirus, the company said Friday, sending shares of its parent company sharply lower in London trading.

The BBC first reported that the employees have been isolated and are recovering at home, with British Airways adding their infections have been confirmed by Public Health England officials. Neither the company nor the report specifically noted if the employees worked as cabin crew for Europe's biggest air carrier.

Britain's overall coronavirus have risen to 163, government officials said Friday, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged nearly $60 billion to combat its spread and support the country's publicly-funded healthcare system. 

International Consolidated Airlines  (ICAGY) , the owner of British Airways, was marked 5.65% lower in early afternoon trading in London following the BBC report and changing hands at 399.2 pence each. The move extends the stock's one month decline to a staggering 36%.

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The report follows a horrendous week for airline and transport stocks, with Germany's Deutsche Lufthansa  (DLAKY)  confirming earlier today that it will be grounding around 25% of its entire fleet as global demand plunges.

Lufthansa shares were marked 5.96% in Frankfurt and have fallen 28% over the past month. 

One estimate from U.K.-based investment firm AJ Bell, in fact, suggests global airline shares have lost around a fifth of their market value, around $40 billion, over the month of February, pulling the sector's valuation to the lowest level in five years 

Earlier this week, the International Air Transport Association, also known as IATA, said carriers around the world could lose between $63 billion and $113 billion in passengers revenues this year, depending on the depth of the cororanvirus pandemic, as business and leisure demand plunges and government travel restrictions increase.