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Asia businesses brace for virus amid China New Year exodus

SARS memories hit markets and spur Foxconn, airlines and hotels into action

A Chinese tourist wears a mask as he arrives at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport on Jan. 22.   © Reuters

TOKYO/KUALA LUMPUR -- When Japan's Prince Hotels ordered its front desks to put up warnings for guests on Wednesday, it joined a host of Asian companies bracing for the impact of a new coronavirus from the Chinese city of Wuhan that is breaking out amid one of China's busiest travel seasons -- with some fearing it could even affect Tokyo's Summer Olympics.

More than 7 million overseas trips will be made during China's Lunar New Year holidays from Jan. 24 through Jan. 30, compared with 6.3 million last year, according to the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute. The top destinations are Thailand, Japan and South Korea, followed by Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia. And this seasonal exodus has fueled fears among Asian businesses that infections could spread rapidly.

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