Primary Industries

Seafood may be among first trade casualties of coronavirus

The deadly new virus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan will affect New Zealand exporters, a top seafood official says.

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak jumped to 56 today, with as many as 2000 people infected world-wide, since it was identified in Wuhan.

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned today that the spread of the disease was accelerating and his government was suspending all foreign trips by Chinese holiday tour groups from tomorrow.

The disease has spread to Australia, the United States and France, and cases have also been reported throughout Asia.

The cases largely involve people who had recently travelled from the affected region in China.

Coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection. Symptoms seem to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough and shortness of breath.

There is no specific cure or vaccine.

Lunar New Year celebrations for the year of the rat, which began today, have been cancelled in many Chinese cities, which is having an impact on trade with many countries including New Zealand.

The outbreak is already affecting the country's crayfish industry.

The price of crayfish in Australia has plummeted as Chinese buyers cancel orders, because many Lunar New Year celebrations in China are not going ahead.

The chief executive of the New Zealand Rock Lobster Industry Council, Mark Edwards, said this country's exporters would also be affected.

"It's apparent that there will be impacts. We're hearing about some restrictions on access already but it's a bit early to say what the extent of that impact might be."

Edwards said the council would be keeping a close watch on the situation over the next week or so.

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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