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Hyundai’s pavilion at the Delhi Auto Expo 2018 (Mint)
Hyundai’s pavilion at the Delhi Auto Expo 2018 (Mint)

Coronavirus: China delegates cancel visit to India's Auto Expo

  • The development is a blow to the organizers of the biennial auto parts show and automobiles exhibition
  • Indian tourism industry officials said the outbreak of the virus and the subsequent declaration of a global emergency is a worrying development

The outbreak of coronavirus in China has prompted delegates from the world’s largest automobile market to cancel their trip to India for Auto Expo 2020, airline and auto industry executives told Mint. The expo will be held in New Delhi in early February.

“Many groups were coming for the Auto Expo (2020). Most of them have cancelled," said a senior airline official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A senior representative of the automobile and auto-component industry confirmed that many delegates have cancelled their flight bookings, though none of the Chinese companies have pulled out of the show. Local representatives are expected to take over bulk of the work.

“We will take all precautionary measures and have been in touch with them (the companies). As of now there have been no pull outs (by exhibitors). We have assessed the situation but we can’t see any adverse impact. It’s is a global health concern but we will take all precautionary measures," said Deepak Jain, president, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India.

Indian tourism industry officials said the outbreak of the virus and the subsequent declaration of a global emergency is a worrying development. The World Health Organisation (WHO), late on Thursday, declared the spread of coronavirus as a public health emergency.

“It is definitely going to impact tourism," Subhash Goyal, head of the tourism committee at the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) said. The outbreak has coincided with the China’s New Year holiday period, when groups travel from the country in large numbers, Goyal highlighted.

Three airlines in the world’s most populous country--China Eastern, China Southern and Air China—operate flights to India.

Meanwhile, state-owned Air India said it will cancel flights between Mumbai and Shanghai from 31 January to 14 February, while the country’s largest private airline IndiGo, owned and operated by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, said it will suspend flights from New Delhi to China’s Chengdu from 1-20 February.

Scores of international carriers, including British Airways, have also suspended flights to the Asian country.

An Air India flight flew from New Delhi today to evacuate Indian nationals from China’s Wuhan, the starting point of the disease that has now spread to 18 countries.

“The national carrier once again comes to the rescue–this time to evacuate Indians from Wuhan, the site of the outbreak of the coronavirus," said Ashani Lohani, chairman and managing director of Air India. "This mission begins today with a Jumbo 747 operating between Delhi and Wuhan," Lohani added.

The WHO declared the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), with the virus spreading outside Wuhan. The declaration serves notice to all United Nations member states that the world’s top health advisory body thinks the situation is “serious".

There are now 82 cases in 18 countries. Of these, only seven had no history of travel in China. There has been human-to-human transmission in three countries outside China. One of these cases is severe and there have been no deaths," the WHO said.

According to John Hopkins University, China recorded 213 deaths as of Friday. The virus has so far infected 9,776 persons globally, with 9,658 affected in Mainland China.

On Thursday, India reported its first case of coronavirus. An Indian student of Wuhan University in China tested positive in Kerala, the health ministry said.

India has requested China for permission to operate two flights to bring back its nationals from the worst-affected central Hubei province oh Wuhan.

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