Casinos, factories close across Asia as coronavirus fears spread

From Macau and South Korea to Singapore, businesses are enforcing temporary closures as coronavirus cases escalate.

Macau casinno
Macau called for all casinos to be closed for two weeks as the city guards itself against the spread of the new coronavirus from mainland China [File: Bobby Yip/Reuters]

More businesses across Asia are suspending operations and an international aviation summit has been cancelled in an attempt to curb the spread of the new coronavirus from China.

Macau, the world’s biggest gambling hub, said on Tuesday it had asked all casino operators to suspend operations for two weeks to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

The announcement by Macau’s chief executive Ho Iat Seng came as the former Portuguese colony reported 10 confirmed cases of the virus and tight restrictions on movements in and out of the Chinese territory.

Residents have been instructed to wear masks when travelling around the city and advised to stay home as much as possible.

Ho said he would be speaking to casino owners to discuss the closures. No immediate details were given as to when the suspension would begin.

Separately, Hyundai Motor Company plans to gradually suspend production at its factories in South Korea from Tuesday, as the virus outbreak in China has disrupted supplies of vehicle components, a Hyundai Motor union official said.

Such a move would make Hyundai the first large global carmaker to suspend production outside China due to supply chain disruptions caused by the outbreak, which has led to more than 420 deaths.

Most of Hyundai’s South Korean factories will be fully idled from February 7 to February 10 or February 11, the official, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter, said.

The idling, which was under discussion by Hyundai management since Monday, was due to a shortage of car parts called wiring harnesses, auto industry officials told Reuters earlier. The carmaker did not keep a large inventory of the part, which was mostly produced in two South Korean firms’ China production lines.

A Hyundai Motor Company spokeswoman did not provide immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

South Korea imported $1.56bn worth of car parts from China in 2019, up from $1.47bn in 2018, according to trade data.

In Singapore, a meeting of international aviation officials scheduled for February 10 has been cancelled, organisers said in a statement on Tuesday.

Experia Events Pte Ltd, the organisers of the airshow, said the cancellation of the aviation leadership summit will allow many aviation executives to work out responses to the virus outbreak.

The summit involves 300 aviation executives, comprising government officials, civil aviation authorities, airport operators and airline executives.

However, Singapore Airshow, Asia’s biggest gathering of aerospace and defence industry executives from February 11 to 16, will go ahead as planned.

Last week, the city-state denied entry to all Chinese visitors and foreigners with a recent history of travel to China.

Source: Reuters