The Indian government on Thursday advised citizens not to travel to China in view of the Novel Coronavirus epidemic, which has claimed as many as 213 people there and is fast spreading across the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the virus, also called the Wuhan virus, a global health emergency.

India’s first case of the virus infection was reported in Kerala.

The ministry of health and family welfare said everyone who flew in from China after January 15 will be tested as there is an incubation period for the virus.

As of January 30, a total of 7,711 confirmed cases were reported in 31 provinces in China, with 1,370 serious cases, 170 deaths, 124 discharged and cured cases, and 12,167 suspected cases, the ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Chinese companies in India are taking precautionary measures as this is the time of year when its executives travel back for the Chinese New Year. Various companies have issued travel advisories and sources say that some executives who had travelled home are believed to be still in China.

While most Chinese smartphone companies in India refused to comment on the issue, a Xiaomi spokesperson said, “We are curbing any outbound and inbound travel to/from China till February end unless absolutely crucial for business.” The smartphone major has issued a detailed advisory for its employees, which describes the precautions they have to take.

The advisory talks about the “virus, background, reported cases in China, symptoms and preventive methods such as maintaining hygiene of keeping hands dirty, covering mouth and being cautious”, the spokesperson added.

Employees travelling to China have been advised to maintain personal hygiene, wear a mask, keep their hands clean, and stay away from raw meat or stray animals, the advisory states. Employees have also been advised to stay away from people with flu-like symptoms and to seek medical attention immediately if they feel unwell. They’ve also been advised to exercise caution around other people if they are sick.

If employees coming back to India after travelling to China feel unwell on the flight, or within a month of coming back, they have been advised to seek medical help immediately, wear a mask and be cautious around other people. Additionally, if one feels unwell on a flight, one needs to inform the crew immediately, the advisory says.

While many countries are working on a plan to evacuate its citizens from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, it has been reported that Swedish furniture major IKEA has decided to temporarily shut all 30 stores in China because of the outbreak. Some companies in China, for example, China-owned Volvo Cars, has extended the New Year holidays, reports say.

Meanwhile, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) said it is taking “adequate precautions at the venue of the Auto Expo - The Motor Show”. The Auto Expo 2020 will open on February 7 and is expected to see participation from various Chinese manufacturers.

“We have been assured that all overseas arrivals, especially from China, are being screened at the Airport. At the venue, we have been advised to create awareness and medical facilitation counters, which we are ensuring,” said Rajan Wadhera, president, SIAM. No Chinese officials from SAIC Motor-owned MG will be attending the auto expo.

MG Motor India, in a statement, warned of a “significant” disruption in its supply chain from Chinese players”. “Our production and sales might get hit in February as our inventory is at a minimum because of bookings,” the statement said.

According to reports, around 90 journalists from China, who had registered for the Auto Expo, would not be attending the event.

According to the WHO, Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people, according to the WHO.

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