APPLE has today announced it will temporarily close ALL of its retail stores outside China as coronavirus continues to spread.
CEO Tim Cook this morning confirmed the drastic measures as the tech giant took "additional steps" to protect its employees.
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In a statement, Mr Cook said: "The most effective way to minimise risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximise social distance.
"As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers.
"We will be closing all of our retail stores outside of Greater China until March 27."
Mr Cook added: "Extensive, deep cleaning will continue at all sites. In all our offices, we are rolling out new health screenings and temperature checks."
Offices will instead move to flexible work arrangements worldwide, with many working remotely if possible.
Apple's announcement comes as the virus continues to spread, with more than 145,000 cases and 5,000 deaths worldwide.
But he added all of the stores in Greater China had been reopened after the country was ravaged by the virus with more than 80,000 cases and 3,000 deaths alone.
As part of the stringent new measures, Mr Cook said all hourly workers would continue to receive pay with "business as usual operations".
He said: "We have expanded our leave policies to accommodate personal or family health circumstances created by COVID-19 — including recovering from an illness, caring for a sick loved one, mandatory quarantining, or childcare challenges due to school closures."
Apple customers will still be able to access support online.
It comes after the $205.5 billion tech giant said in Monday it is seeing its sales blighted by the virus – as factories and stores are closed amid already weakening demand by Chinese consumers.
Meanwhile in Britain, a newborn baby in London tested positive for coronavirus as the cases in the UK soared to 798, with 11 deaths.
In the last 24 hours the UK has seen an enormous 35 per cent increase in cases of the deadly virus.
Yesterday it was announced that football in England was put on hold and all mass gatherings are due to be cancelled.
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