F1 ‘monitoring’ coronavirus situation in China (Update)

The epidemic can be most widespread in the April time-frame when the race is scheduled
The Chinese GP may have to be cancelled

UPDATE (GMM) A disease expert says he is not "optimistic" about whether China will be able to host its Formula 1 race as scheduled in April this year.

The spread of the deadly coronavirus, whose epicenter in Wuhan is 800 kilometers from Shanghai's F1 track, is worsening by the day.

Foreign offices are advising against travel, international airlines are stopping direct flights into and out of China, sporting events are being cancelled, and the World Health Organisation has now declared a global emergency.

"The virus is still spreading, there is no doubt about it," Dr Sergio Brusin, an expert at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, told the Guardian newspaper.

"There has been a huge increase of cases in China and more countries importing cases. We are seeing human-to-human transmission outside the area of Wuhan that can indicate that it will spread further," he said.

Some are predicting that the epidemic's seriousness could be peaking by April, when Shanghai is scheduled to host its seventeenth Chinese GP.

Dr Brusin said: "What happens between now and April is extremely difficult to predict, but if the infection keeps on spreading at this pace I would not be optimistic at having a F1 ticket in my pocket."

01/30/20 (GMM) The Formula 1 organisation and its governing body are continuing to "monitor" the worsening situation surrounding the Chinese coronavirus outbreak.

With 170 now dead and that number climbing every day, the world is reacting with alarm to the epidemic, as international sporting events in China are cancelled and major airlines begin scrapping flights.

It has been suggested that the epidemic could be at its peak by April, when F1 is set to race in Shanghai. Wuhan, the virus' epicenter where millions of residents and visitors are in lock down, is just 800km from Shanghai.

Britain's foreign office is advising against "all but essential travel" across all of mainland China.

"Following the ongoing developments in China and in light of official advice issued by the foreign office, we continue to monitor the situation in China closely with the FIA and the promoter on the ground," said Formula 1.

The governing FIA said separately: "We are monitoring the situation in close collaboration with F1, the promoter and with our ASN which is our conduit on the ground in China.

"At this stage there's not much we can do except watch the situation and react if necessary, if recommendations are made by the relevant authorities," a spokesman added.

Formula E is scheduled to race in Sanya, China, at the end of March, and organizers say that event is currently "still scheduled to go ahead".

"Given the current health concerns, we are continuing to closely monitor the situation as it develops on a daily basis," the statement added.

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