Apple listens to health experts, closes all retail stores in China amid coronavirus crisis

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The Wuhan coronvirus has infected more than 17,000 people across 25 countries and claimed the lives of 360 people as of Feb. 3. By the time you read this, those figures will likely have increased as the deadly virus spreads at a devastating rate. 

Governments, organizations and firms around the world are taking special precautions to confront the growing health crisis and try to limit the spread of the virus to prevent it from becoming a pandemic, or an epidemic on two or more continents. 

Apple is the latest company to respond, announcing on Saturday that it will close all its 42 stores and corporate offices in China until Feb. 9. 

“Out of an abundance of caution and based on the latest advice from leading health experts, we’re closing all our corporate offices, stores and contact centers in mainland China through Feb. 9,” an Apple spokesman said. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation and we look forward to reopening our stores as soon as possible.”

Possible effect on iPhone sales

Apple didn't say anything about pushing back the timeframe, should the company be advised against re-opening so soon. We suspect the company will delay reopening offices and stores should that happen, although doing so could hurt the company's bottom line.  

The vast majority of Apple products, including the iPhone, are built in factories across China. On top of that, one-fifth of Apple's product sales come from China. 

In its statement, Apple didn't mention how the Wuhan coronavirus might affect sales or shipments. However, reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts (via Apple Insider) that iPhone shipments will decrease by 10%, to between 36 and 40 million, for the first quarter of 2020. 

Additionally, Apple CEO Tim Cook provided a wider-than-normal revenue range of between $63 billion and $67 billion for the current quarter after taking the effects of the SARS-like virus into account, the Wall Street Journal reports

Other tech companies have instructed employees to minimize travel or work from home, while Huawei, Xiaomi and a few China-based semiconductor manufacturers are operating as usual despite the risks of contagion, Reuters reports

It's not just China

Beyond the tech world, authorities are taking extreme measures to prevent the virus from spreading.

The United States declared the virus a public health emergency and is now denying entry to foreign nationals who visited China in the past two weeks. So far, 11 cases have been confirmed in the US with several more suspected. 

For everything you need to know about the coronavirus, including all the latest news, visit our sister site Tom's Guide.

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.