Saturday 14 March 2020 11:51 am

Apple shuts stores across the world amid coronavirus fears

Apple is to close all its retail stores outside of China for two weeks in an effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Chief executive Tim Cook announced last night that the company would be taking the steps across the rest of the world to minimise the risk of transmission.

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It comes just a day after the company reopened all 42 stores in China, some of which had been closed for six weeks amid the outbreak.

Apple has already closed its 17 stores in Italy after the government locked down the entire country earlier this week.

Italy has more confirmed cases of Covid-19 than anywhere outside of China with 17.760 as of yesterday.

Cook said it had taken the measures after seeing the positive results it had delivered in China where the infection rate has slowed.

“One of those lessons is that the most effective way to minimise risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximise social distance,” Cook said.

“As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers.”

The number of new cases in China has fallen dramatically this week while the country is in lockdown.

There have been more than 145,000 confirmed cases across the world, while almost 81,000 cases are in China.

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Stores will be closed until 27 March, Apple said, although stores in China were originally planned to close for just eight days.

“We do not yet know with certainty when the greatest risk will be behind us,” Cook added.