Companies of all stripes are taking precautionary measures in the lead up to the Lunar New Year holiday.
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Ford and GM have imposed travel restrictions to the city of Wuhan due to a deadly outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus in the city.

GM confirmed to Bloomberg it has issued a "global travel advisory" for the Chinese city, with travel limited to "business critical" issues.

Ford had also issued a travel advisory for its employees, while Volkswagen has given safety advice to its staff.

Not long after the automakers confirmed their travel restrictions, Chinese authorities moved to place five cities on lockdown. These include Wuhan, and the nearby cities of Huanggang, Ezhou and Chibi, as well as Zhijiang, which is around 300 kilometres away.

A number of cities have cancelled public events, while some companies have put off annual ceremonies related to the Lunar New Year.

The current outbreak of coronavirus is centred around the Chinese city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province. At the time of writing 17 people have died in the city, with a further 600 infected.

Authorities have confirmed an elderly man, who had spent several several months in Wuhan, has died in Hebei, a city almost 900 kilometres north of the current outbreak's epicentre.

Infections have been reported in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the US and Vietnam.

Travel restrictions, whether put in place by employers or government authorities, will severely disrupt the plans of millions of people, because during Lunar New Year hundreds of millions of Chinese move around the country to spend the holiday period with their families.

Overnight, the World Health Organization said it was "too early" to declare the coronavirus outbreak as an international public health emergency.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the WHO, told the press: “Make no mistake, this is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one."

Although coronavirus is typically limited to animals, this latest strain has made the jump to humans and is being spread from person to person. Reports indicate those who have died had underlying medical issues.

Header image by egorgrebnev on Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0