Hong Kong shoppers snap up rice and noodles as coronavirus fears mount

Passengers arriving at the Hong Kong International Airport get checked for coronavirus flu. The virus outbreak is fanning fears of global isolation

Coronavirus outbreak: Cathay Pacific, Air China temporarily suspend flights to China

President Rodrigo Duterte on February 2 temporarily banned travelers from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau due to the rising number of 2019-nCoV cases in these areas.

On Tuesday, the Hong Kong-based airline unveiled a 90% cut in flights to and from mainland China and a consolidation of flight schedules on other routes, bringing the total capacity reduction to 30% worldwide.

Hong Kong's pro-Beijing leadership, which now has record-low approval ratings after months of pro-democracy protests, had been reluctant to make such a move.

Chinese multinational company Tencent, in a report, has said the coronavirus has claimed 24,589 lives whereas China has pegged the toll at 563.

"At a time when everyone is throwing themselves into the fight against the epidemic, and a few cases have already been confirmed (in Hong Kong), it's not fair".

Many airlines have suspended flights to Hong Kong too amid virus fears. "These decisions are hard but had to be made to keep the airline alive", he added.

Alexander Sehmer of Falanx Assynt, a risk consultancy, said that because airlines were canceling flights due to commercial unviability, they were most likely to do so where local governments had restricted travel.

Despite its better finances, Cathay Pacific, the flag carrier of Hong Kong, has also had to face the effects of the viral outbreak, asking its 27,000 employees to take three weeks of unpaid leave.

The death toll in China from the novel coronavirus outbreak climbed to 425, the country's National Health Commission (NHC) said on February 4. Buyers queuing up in a pharmacy in central Hong Kong on Friday to buy tissue paper felt compelled to do their shopping.

Multiple countries in Asia have now imposed varying levels of travel restrictions in an attempt to curb the spread of Wuhan coronavirus.

"We urge the relevant countries to think carefully, not to overreact, nor restrict flights operated by airlines of the two sides, with bilateral relations and cooperation in mind".

World markets have taken a hit, with stock markets down lower than they were two weeks ago, and China's stock market down 8% on the first trading day after the New Year holiday. Shares fell 0.7% in Paris.

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