Shipments of smartphones halted to Russia as coronavirus epidemic spreads

US tech giant Apple and Chinese manufacturers, including Huawei, Xiaomi, and ZTE, have suspended supplies of phones to Russia, according to reports just hours before the first cases of coronavirus were discovered on its territory.

The manufacturers, with factories based in China, have suspended shipments for at least two weeks, Russian business daily Kommersant reported on Friday. Firms such as Vivo, Realme, and Lenovo followed suit.

The halt to supplies came as plants extended the Chinese New Year holidays for their employees until February 10 and could further prolong them further because of the outbreak.

Russian retailers have not faced any shortages and do not expect them so far, as they usually make larger orders before the New Year holiday season. However, if the supplies don’t return to normal for more than a month, it could take a toll on the smartphone market and drive prices up by 10 or 15 percent, according to analysts.

Although Moscow has already closed its Far Eastern border with China, the first two cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Russia on Friday. Both patients are Chinese citizens, one in the Far Eastern Zabaikalsky region, and the other in the Tyumen region in western Siberia.

On Thursday, the World Health Organization sounded the alarm over the epidemic, declaring it a “public health emergency of international concern.” The virus is spreading rapidly in China and beyond; more than 200 people have died and 10,000 cases have been reported.