Coronavirus tests world’s dependence on China

Posted: January 30, 2020 in China, Coronavirus, Malaysia, Malaysian Tourism, Sabah, virus
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Coronavirus tests world’s dependence on China

Businesses like Starbucks, Ikea, Ford and Toyota are shutting down locations in China, and Apple is rerouting supply chains as the number of people infected by a mysterious flu-like virus passes 7,000.

It’s not clear how quickly these businesses will bounce back.

Tourism is also suffering. British Airways suspended all flights to the mainland, and United Airlines and Air Canada joined a growing number of carriers reducing service. In Sabah, AirAsia has stopped all KK-Wuhan flights till Feb. 29. Governments around the world are issuing travel warnings, including Malaysia.

China has been the world’s largest source of tourism dollars, but it appears unlikely that Chinese tourists will spend what they typically do — $258 billion annually, nearly twice the tally of Americans.

Sabah’s tourism in 2018 with tourism receipts at RM8.342bil was a record-high of 3.879 million arrivals. The top market source was China, with a total of 593,623 Chinese tourists visiting Sabah in 2018, averaged about 50,000 every month.

The Malaysian government temporary ban on residents from the Hubei province and its capital city of Wuhan from entering Malaysia will cost Sabah tourism to lose RM100 million a month based on estimated spending of RM2000 per Chinese tourist.

As of December 2018, direct flights from China to Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA), totalled up to 125 flights per week.

The toll: China said that 170 people had died so far from the virus and more than 7000 cases had been confirmed, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan. There have been no reported deaths outside of China, but cases overseas have been rising.

Nearly 60 million people are under partial or full lockdowns in Chinese cities.

Answers: Bats are considered the probable source of the outbreak. They have an immune system that allows them to carry many viruses without getting sick.

How to stop it: Scientists in China, the U.S. and Australia are racing to develop a vaccine, a quest that could take months, if not years.

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