CORONAVIRUS is impacting businesses and charities across Coventry and Warwickshire.
More than 2,000 people in China have died of the virus, known as Covid-19, and in the UK 13 cases have been confirmed. The threat in this country currently stands at ‘moderate’.
A Leamington Chinese restaurant – which did not want to be named – told the Observer diners were staying away.
It comes despite no evidence eating Chinese food puts people at risk of contracting the illness, and the World Health Organisation confirming the virus was predominantly spread through direct contact with an infected person.
A restaurant spokesman said: “Our regulars understand and support us, but we have not seen many new customers. Last year we were busier than this and we can only think it is due to Coronavirus.
“Other places in Warwickshire have been affected too, but it is worse in Birmingham’s China Town. People are worried by what they are seeing on the news and social media.”
And a Coventry-based car manufacturing company has also been affected and is now having to source expensive parts from elsewhere in the world.
A spokesman for the company, which also did not want to be identified, said if the issues continued long-term it could even face administration.
He told the Observer: “We source 80 per cent of our materials from China and face very big problems as many of the Chinese cannot get to work.
“Since all of this happened at Christmas we have had to source everything we need immediately from the UK, EU and America which has come at a great cost. Some of our projects are now on hold and many are ten times more expensive.
“I am waiting to find out more from my suppliers and lawyers but if this continues we could be facing administration. We have received no advice from government.
“I am sure it is the same for many companies in the automotive industry.”
The tourism industry has also been hit, with Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust (SBT) – which runs the Bard’s family homes in and around Stratford – reporting a 15 per cent drop in visitors in the past fortnight.
Visitors from China make up around five per cent of visitors, and those who have tickets and are unable to attend are being offered a refund or can rebook.
SBT head of sales Debbie Beardall said: “We are receiving regular updates through the official tourist board of Great Britain and are advised the risk to the UK population remains low. Visitors to any of the Shakespeare family homes in Stratford can be reassured that we are closely following advice given by Public Health England.”
Coventry-based charity Dogbus rescues animals from horrific conditions abroad, including previously saving dogs from the Wuhan meat market – where the virus is believed to have originated.
It currently has 20 dogs in China which it cannot get to the UK due to flights being grounded. They will stay in a Chinese shelter until they can travel to Coventry.
Charity founder Kristyn Adams said there had also been a lack of interest in people adopting dogs from Asia due to the virus outbreak.
She added: “The 20 dogs are safe in shelters, even though these shelters are the worst you’ll ever see.
“Because this is a new virus and not fully understood, the usual queries about adoption of Chinese dogs has stopped. We have not had any for seven weeks, even though the dogs do not carry the virus.”
Search ‘Dogbus Transporting Paws Saving Lives’ on Facebook for more information.