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Ikea to close half its stores in China over virus outbreak

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Swedish furniture giant Ikea said Wednesday it had temporarily closed half of its 30 stores in mainland China until further notice amid concerns over the deadly new coronavirus.

[STOCKHOLM] Swedish furniture giant Ikea said Wednesday it had temporarily closed half of its 30 stores in mainland China until further notice amid concerns over the deadly new coronavirus.

"In response to the Chinese government's call for strict and effective disease control, Ikea Retail China will temporarily close around half of the stores in mainland China until further notice, effective from Jan 29," the company said in a statement.

Ikea had last week closed its store in Wuhan, the city where the outbreak originated in late 2019.

Chinese authorities said Wednesday that the number of confirmed deaths from the virus has risen to 132 nationwide, with the confirmed total of infections now nearly 6,000 worldwide.

Ikea said it was working with authorities in the cities and regions where it operates and was monitoring the situation closely, and would "act in accordance with their recommendations as this situation is evolving."

It said Ikea employees at the affected stores were "asked to stay at home until further notice with paid leave."

The company has a total of 14,000 employees in China.

The outbreak is feared to have a serious impact on the global economy, with air traffic already disrupted and industrial production, international trade and tourism affected.

AFP