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Apple Closes China Stores Until Feb 9 Due To Virus

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File Photo: People walk past an Apple store in Beijing on December 11, 2018. Apple stores in China continued with business as usual on December 11, despite a Chinese court-ordered ban on iPhone sales that could hurt the US tech firm in one of its most crucial markets

Apple announced on Saturday the closure of its stores, corporate offices and contact centres in mainland China until February 9 due to the new coronavirus epidemic.

The virus has prompted the government to extend the Lunar New Year holiday through this weekend in a bid to contain its spread, but many provinces and cities have called on companies to delay their return to work.

“Our thoughts are with the people most immediately affected by the coronavirus and with those working around the clock to study and contain it,” Apple said in a statement.

It added the closure was decided “out of an abundance of caution and based on the latest advice from leading health experts”.

Apple’s online store remains open and the company said it would closely monitor the situation.

China is home to the firm’s third-biggest consumer market and much of its supply chain.

But like every company in China, it has been affected by the virus that has killed 259 people and infected nearly 12,000.

Some of Apple’s suppliers are based in the area near Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak.

Apple chief Tim Cook said on Tuesday that the company was working on “mitigation plans” to make up for production loss with alternate sources.

The company had already closed one of its Wuhan stores while some retail partners have shuttered their shops or cut hours of business.

Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn, which makes iPhone products, is keeping its Chinese factories closed until mid-February and is allowing local employees to delay their return after the new year break.

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