The deadly novel coronavirus has so far spread to at least 16 countries, including Germany, Australia, and the United States. China has reported an increase in fatalities and infections as the virus has claimed more than 100 lives, with the number of cases soaring overnight.
More than 4,500 cases have been reported in 16 countries and territories. Chinese authorities said the virus isn’t yet under control despite aggressive steps to limit movement for millions of people who live in cities near the center of the outbreak.
Governments, global companies, and international health organizations rushed to contain the spread of a SARS-like coronavirus. As containment efforts intensify, the likelihood of the virus disrupting global businesses and the world’s second-largest economy appears to be growing. China has extended the Lunar New Year holiday, while companies are shutting stores and evacuating workers. More than 50 million people remain effectively locked down by travel restrictions in Wuhan and Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak.
Anxiety is growing amid evidence that the disease has an incubation period of as long as two weeks before those infected start to show signs of the illness. That raises the possibility that people who are carrying the virus but don’t show symptoms could infect others.
Here are the latest developments:
WeWork, Starbucks shut doors as infections spread
Starbucks Corp. and office-sharing company WeWork are shutting locations in China, while Facebook, Nissan Motor and other companies enact measures to shield employees in areas hardest hit by a deadly viral outbreak.
WeWork is temporarily closing 55 offices across China and encouraging employees to work from home or in private rooms, it said in a statement Tuesday. Facebook employees based in China, and those who recently returned from trips to the country, are also being told to work from home, people familiar with the matter said.
Apple’s supply chain is at risk of being disrupted. Virtually all of the world’s iPhones are made in China by contract manufacturers, and the company had been increasing production to meet higher-than-anticipated demand.
Taiwan advises against all China travel, releases mask stocks
Taiwan raised its travel warning for China on Tuesday saying that people should avoid going unless necessary amid an outbreak of the new coronavirus there, and said it had begun to release stocks of face masks but would limit purchases.
Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Centre said it had raised its previous advice and would extend to the rest of China an existing warning not to go to Hubei province unless necessary, though Hong Kong and Macau are excluded.
Taiwan also has rolled out strict curbs on Chinese visitors, restricting a vast majority of them.
Last week Taiwan’s government announced a one-month ban on the export of specialist masks designed to be used for medical personnel, saying it had to look after the needs of its people first.
Hong Kong suspends some rail, ferry links with mainland China to curb virus spread
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced plans today to suspend high-speed rail and ferry links with mainland China as the global financial hub scrambles to limit the spread of a new coronavirus.
High-speed rail services will be suspended from midnight on Thursday, Lam said, adding that the number of flights to mainland China would also be halved and personal travel permits for mainland Chinese to the city would be suspended.
(With inputs from livemint)