Apple has confirmed that it has closed large numbers of its stores in China, as that country battles the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
Already much morse than the SARS outbreak back in 2003, coronavirus has so far killed more than 560 people and infected over 28,000 people, mostly in China.
Such is the impact that Qualcomm has warned this week that the coronavirus could disrupt the global mobile industry, as many factories and suppliers are based in mainland China.
Apple’s website in China says that all 42 stores will be closed until 9 February, CNN reported. The online website still reportedly works for customers in China.
“Out of an abundance of caution and based on the latest advice from leading health experts, we’re closing all our corporate offices, stores and contact centers in mainland China through February 9,” Apple told CNN Business in a statement. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation and we look forward to reopening our stores as soon as possible.”
The decision to close the stores comes as Chinese authorities take unprecedented steps to contain the virus. This includes constructing two hospitals in just ten days to treat victims, and placing people in major cities into lockdown.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said during its recent earnings call when it revealed buoyant iPhone sales, even in China, that deep cleaning of its stores in China was taking place regularly.
Apple apparently closed one store in China last week, and reduced hours at others because of lower foot traffic.
“We have limited travel to business-critical situations as of last week,” Cook said at the time. “The situation is emerging, and we’re still gathering lots of data points and monitoring it very closely.”
Apple apparently has suppliers in the Wuhan area, which is the epicentre of the outbreak, as well as supplier manufacturing facilities in nearby provinces.
Apple has also been conducting temperature checks on employees to avoid spreading the virus.
Apple is not alone is shutting stores in the country.
Starbucks and Ikea are also known to have closed stores during the outbreak.
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