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Coronavirus update: 132 dead in China; Starbucks, Apple shut stores; airlines cancel flights

Coronavirus update: 132 dead in China; Starbucks, Apple shut stores; airlines cancel flights
Highlights

From Facebook to Japan's Nippon Steel have restricted travel to China, as the outbreak of a new coronavirus sparks international alarmStarbucks Corp...

China's National Health Commission said on Wednesday the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in the country had risen to 132 as of end-Tuesday, with another 1,459 new cases confirmed. The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in China stands at 5,974 as of end-Tuesday, the authority said in a statement.

China's Hubei province, the center of a coronavirus outbreak that has spread throughout the country and overseas, on Wednesday said another 25 patients had died in the province as a result of the virus and reported 840 new cases as of end-Tuesday.

Hubei's health authority said in a statement the province has recorded 125 deaths and 3,554 cases as of end-Tuesday. The outbreak began in Wuhan, the province's capital, and the majority of deaths and confirmed cases have been from the city.

Companies around the globe from Facebook to Japan's Nippon Steel have restricted travel to China, as the outbreak of a new coronavirus, which has killed over 100 people and infected more than 4,000 in the world's most populous country, sparks international alarm.

Here's how companies have responded to the outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, the capital of China's Hubei province:

Travel advisories/evacuations/quarantines:-

Facebook asked employees to halt non-essential travel to mainland China and to work from home if they had travelled there. Chinese tech giants including Alibaba and Tencent have asked staff to work from home for a week after an extended Lunar New Year break ends on Feb. 2.

Tiktok owner Bytedance asked employees who travelled during the holidays to quarantine themselves and work from home for 14 days. E-commerce firm Pinduoduo, UBS Group and property developer Country Garden have advised similar action.

Standard Chartered banned travel to Hubei and restricted travel to mainland China and Hong Kong and asked employees returning from Hubei to work from home for 14 days. Commonwealth Bank of Australia said all non-essential employee travel to China should be avoided.

LG Electronics and electric car battery maker LG Chem banned travel to China.

South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix urged employees to avoid non-essential trips to China as having LG Display and Japanese carmakers Honda and Toyota. Honda evacuated around 30 employees and their families from Wuhan on a government charter flight.

Nissan is planning to send back some Japanese staff working at its JV with Dongfeng Motors in Wuhan and their families on the chartered flight as well.

Samsung Electronics advised employees who recently visited Hubei to stay at home for seven days.

Japanese steelmaker Nippon Steel restricted travel to China.

Singaporean conglomerate Keppel Corp, which has 170 staff in Wuhan, advised staff to avoid non-work-related visits to and from mainland China and not to travel to Hubei province. It will monitor staff in China and those who have returned to Singapore from there in the past 14 days.

Novartis said it is asking staff in China to work from home until Feb. 10 and has suspended business travel to and from Wuhan.

Nestle has deployed additional biosecurity measures at its factories, offices and distribution centres in China. It does not have manufacturing facilities in Wuhan.

Volkswagen asked the staff at its China unit to work from home between Feb. 3 and Feb. 17.

Brazilian miner Vale SA has suspended travel by its employees to and from China indefinitely and said employees in China will work remotely.

Goldman Sachs has instructed staff who have been in mainland China to work from home or be out of the office for 14 days since they were last there, according to an internal notice.

STORES SHUT:

Starbucks Corp warned of a financial hit from the coronavirus outbreak in China and said it had closed more than half of its stores in the country.

McDonald's suspended business in five cities in Hubei including Wuhan. Starbucks closed all shops and suspended delivery services in Hubei.

Yum China Holdings Inc temporarily closed some of its KFC and Pizza Hut stores in Wuhan.

Luckin Coffee will keep stores closed in Wuhan throughout the Lunar New Year holidays.

Japan's Fast Retailing temporarily closed about 100Uniqlo stores in Hubei. IKEA closed its one store in Wuhan.

Walt Disney temporarily closed its Shanghai and Hong Kong theme parks and resorts during what is likely the busiest time of the year.

Imax delayed film releases in China.

H&M has closed 45 stores and suspended business travel to and within China, a spokeswoman said. Staff arriving from China are recommended to stay home for 14 days before returning to work.

Swatch has closed five stores in Wuhan and suspended all travel to and from China.

Apple Inc Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said the company has currently closed one of its retail stores in China and reduced hours at others and is restricting employee travel due to the virus.

Airline refunds/cancellations:

Finnish airline Finnair has suspended its routes to Nanjing and Beijing's Daxing International airport until the end of March, the first European airline to cancel flights to the country.

Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific and it's Cathay Dragon will cut capacity to and from mainland China by 50% or more from Jan. 30 to end-March. The airline will also rebook, reroute or refund tickets booked on or before Jan. 28 for travel by March 31 to or from mainland China.

Australia's Qantas Airways said it will offer free refunds for tickets issued worldwide on or before Jan. 24, for journeys to and from mainland China between Jan. 24 and Feb. 29.

Air Seoul suspended all flights to China and waived refund penalty. Taiwan's China Airlines rearranged some flights and cancelled others.

China's mainland airlines, including Air China, China Southern and China Eastern, are offering free refunds across the mainland for tickets purchased before Jan. 24.

Malaysia's AirAsia will offer free refunds for tickets booked before Jan. 24, and for travel to and from mainland China until Feb. 15, and return flights between Feb. 16-29.

Air France KLM is offering to exchange or refund tickets issued for travel to or from China up until Feb. 29. BA-owner IAG is offering the same for tickets until Feb 23.

United Airlines is cancelling some flights to China.

Hotels:

InterContinental Hotels will allow customers to change or cancel stays scheduled up to Feb. 3 across mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Hyatt Hotels said guests who had booked stays through its official channels and are cancelling due to the coronavirus outbreak, or are Chinese guests outbound to its Asia Pacific hotels, can cancel stays or change dates for free.

Booking platforms, agencies:

Ctrip, China's largest online booking platform, said more than 300,000 hotels on its platform had agreed to refund on bookings between Jan. 22 and Feb. 8. Refunds also include flight tickets, cruises and car rents

Fliggy, Alibaba's booking site, offered similar refunds.

Some Chinese tour operators such as China International Travel Service offered refunds and many European tour operators cancelled tours to China.

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