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Coronavirus: Apple to close all stores in mainland China

The announcement comes as a plane carrying German nationals from China is due to arrive in Frankfurt. Countries around the world are taking action to protect citizens as cases increase.

Tech giant Apple said Saturday it would temporarily close all of its official stores and corporate offices in mainland China, as shockwaves from China's ongoing coronavirus outbreak continue to affect business and travel around the world.

The move follows other Western brands, including McDonalds and Starbucks, which have temporarily closed their stores in China.

The company said in a statement that it would close its stores in China until February 9 "out of an abundance of caution and based on the latest advice from leading health experts."

China is Apple's third-biggest consumer market and home to much of the companies supply chain. Many suppliers are based near Wuhan, a major manufacturing hub and the city where the outbreak began.

Germans evacuated

A German military aircraft with about 130 evacuees from Wuhan is due to arrive at Frankfurt Airport Saturday.

The plane is carrying 90 German citizens and 40 citizens of other countries, according to Germany's DPA press agency,

The returnees will be quarantined at an army barracks near Frankfurt airport. None of the German citizens who are to be repatriated are suspected of having contracted the virus, according to Germany's Foreign Ministry.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the plane had delivered aid to Chinese authorities in Wuhan battling the outbreak, including 10,000 protective suits requested by China.

Germany confirmed seven cases of the virus and has advised against nonessential travel to China.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Thursday declared the coronavirus outbreak a global emergency.

As of Saturday, the number of infections worldwide is nearing 12,000, with the vast majority of cases in China. Chinese authorities said Saturday the number of deaths in the country is currently reported at 259.

Coronavirus: More countries repatriate their citizens

How is the world responding to coronavirus?

Outside of China, over 120 people are estimated to have contracted the coronavirus in about two dozen countries across the globe.

Europe: Italy declared a state of emergency in response to the first confirmed cases and suspended flights to China. Sweden and Spain reported their first cases Friday. Portugal said Friday it was sending a plane equipped with medical staff to China to evacuate EU citizens.

The UK confirmed its first case of the coronavirus on Friday. The UK government chartered a flight from Wuhan carrying 83 British citizens and 27 other foreign nationals.

US: On Friday, the US declared a public health emergency and said it would bar entry to foreign nationals who visited China within the last 14 days.

Australia: On Saturday, Australia said it would begin denying entry to non-citizens arriving from China. Ten cases have been confirmed in Australia.

South Asia: India evacuated over 320 of its citizens from China's Hubei province Saturday and placed them under quarantine in New Delhi.

Southeast Asia: Vietnam suspended all flights to and from China Saturday. Singapore barred arrivals and transit passengers from mainland China on Friday.

East Asia: China's northern neighbor Mongolia implemented a ban on arrivals from China on Saturday. South Korea has chartered two flights evacuating hundreds of its citizens out of the Wuhan region.

Japan on Saturday barred entry of Chinese citizens holding passports issued by Hubei province. 

China: Over the past two weeks, China has locked down the city of Wuhan and quarantined other cities in much of Hubei province.

On Friday, China chartered two flights bringing residents of Wuhan back to China from Malaysia and Thailand.

Global economic impact?

China's Hubei province is a major manufacturing center for international companies. Along with Apple, plants run by the beverage company AB InBev and carmaker General Motors have temporarily suspended production due to the outbreak.

China plays a key role in global supply chains and experts warn the coronavirus outbreak could have a knock-on effect on the global economy. Economists are projecting a slowdown in China's first quarter growth due to the virus

Source: dw.com