Hong Kong Disneyland closed indefinitely on Sunday, becoming the second Disney theme park in Asia to shutter its gates in response to a SARS-like virus, which has killed 81 people and sickened roughly 3,000 worldwide.
“As a precautionary measure in line with prevention efforts taking place across Hong Kong, we are temporarily closing Hong Kong Disneyland Park starting from January 26, 2020 out of consideration for the health and safety of our Guests and Cast Members,” the theme park said on its website.
Shanghai Disneyland was closed just a day earlier, along with that property’s two hotels. But Hong Kong Disneyland’s hotels will remain open for now, according to Disney.
“We are in close contact with health authorities and the government about the situation and will announce a reopening date once they determine it is advisable,” a message on Hong Kong Disneyland’s website said.
Hong Kong primary and secondary schools are also being closed down until at least February 17, according to a new report over the weekend.
There are 2,827 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, officially dubbed 2019-nCoV, with the vast majority of cases in China. The country’s National Health Commission reports that 461 of those patients are in critical condition and 51 people have recovered and been sent home. Some experts put the likely total of infected as high as 44,000, though it’s difficult to say at such an early stage.
China’s Premier Li Kequiang visited Hubei province today in an attempt to quell growing anger over the government’s response to the outbreak. Wuhan’s mayor, Zhou Xianwang, told state media outlet CCTV today that he would resign if that would “appease public indignation.”
The Chinese government is extending its Lunar New Year holiday to February 2 in an effort to keep workers at home, and at least 50 million people are currently on lockdown as Chinese officials try to control the spread of the virus. Shanghai, a city of over 24 million people, saw its first death from the virus over the weekend and announced that businesses should stay closed until February 9.
Five confirmed cases have been reported in the U.S., in Washington state, Chicago, Arizona, and two counties in California: Orange County and Los Angeles County. Everyone currently outside of China who has tested positive for the virus visited Hubei, the province at the epicentre of the outbreak, meaning that there hasn’t been a single case of someone transmitting the virus outside of China.
The incubation period for the disease is between 1 and 14 days, and people who are carrying the virus may be able to give it to others before they have symptoms, according to both Chinese health officials and a recently published study in the Lancet medical journal.
Aside from the five cases in the U.S., there have been 44 confirmed cases outside China, including 8 cases in Thailand, 5 in Australia, 4 cases in South Korea, 4 in Taiwan, 4 in Singapore, 4 in Malaysia, 3 cases in France, 3 in Japan, 2 in Vietnam, 1 case in Nepal, and 1 in Canada.
Entertainment in China is being scaled back, with at least seven big budget movies getting their premieres cancelled over the past week. League of Legends Pro League has also cancelled its upcoming esports tournament, according to the South China Morning Post.
Health care workers have been hit especially hard by the novel coronavirus, with the number of nurses now contracting the virus in the dozens. Sixty-two year old doctor Liang Wudong died on Saturday, according to the Global Times. And 51-year-old doctor Jiang Jianjun had a heart attack on Thursday, according to the New York Times, though it’s still not clear if he contracted the virus.
And as with any global phenomena, there’s plenty of lies being spread on social media about the virus. In Australia, fake news is popping up on Facebook purporting to be from a local health department. The fake notice warns Australians to stay away from neighbourhoods with a lot of Chinese people.