January 27, 2020 11:00 AM, EST

Honda, Others Evacuate Workers as Coronavirus Takes Its Toll on Industry

People wearing masks walk on a street in the Kwun Tong district of Hong Kong, China, on Jan. 23.People wearing masks walk on a street in the Kwun Tong district of Hong Kong, China, on Jan. 23. (Paul Yeung/Bloomberg News)

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Global companies including Honda Motor Co. and Groupe PSA are evacuating workers from areas of China hardest hit by a deadly viral outbreak. Theme park operators, movie theaters, retailers and restaurant chains are suspending or curtailing operations to protect workers and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The moves by companies highlight Wuhan’s importance as a manufacturing, shipping and business hub. The central Chinese city has more than 500 factories and other facilities, placing it 13th among 2,000 Chinese cities in Bloomberg’s supply chain database. It’s the capital of Hubei province, which has 1,016 such facilities, making it seventh of 32 such jurisdictions.

Japan-based companies have about 54 of the facilities, while U.S. firms account for 44 and Europeans about 40, the data show. Many plants are in the auto and transportation industries, and big names include PepsiCo Inc. and Siemens AG.

As the outbreak accelerates, China has extended the Lunar New Year holiday to Feb. 2 from the original Jan. 30 date to reduce travel. Authorities have also locked down cities with a combined 40 million people around the epicenter in Wuhan, as they race to contain a pneumonia-like illness that has killed at least 80 in the country with about 2,744 confirmed cases.

Countries including the U.S., Japan, Singapore and South Korea have also reported cases of infection.

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