US fast-food chain McDonald’s has closed 300 restaurants in Hubei province of China as the deadly coronavirus is spreading beyond the country’s borders.
According to Chinese authorities, the death toll from the outbreak has reached 170 in the country, as of the end of 29 January.
McDonald’s has also set up an epidemic task force in response to the respiratory syndrome coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan.
McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski was quoted by Deccan Herald as saying that the country accounts for 9% of all its restaurants, about 5% of sales and 3% of operating profit.
Kempczinski further added that the overall impact on profits would be fairly small if coronavirus remained relatively contained.
For McDonald’s, China has become one of its largest markets, where it has about 3,300 restaurants. The fast-food chain plans to open 1,500 more locations by 2022.
The latest move comes after Starbucks closed nearly 2,000 of its 4,292 restaurants in China and adjusted its operating hours in the Chinese market.
Authorities in China are currently dealing with the 2019 Novel coronavirus, which has affected several countries.
In response to this, China is also constructing a 1,000-bed hospital in Wuhan in ten days to treat patients infected with the coronavirus.
Global stock markets were affected by worries about the impact of coronavirus, as reports of cases in other countries raised fears that the outbreak is expected to spread worldwide.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and China President Xi Jinping have agreed in a meeting in Beijing that WHO will send international experts to the country to work on increasing understanding of the outbreak to guide global response efforts.