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Coronavirus quarantine sparks China download boom in games and apps

China’s coronavirus outbreak has fuelled record downloads of apps and games by millions of quarantined households, fresh data reveals.

Figures released by the analytics platform App Annie showed there had been more than 222 million downloads in China from Apple’s online store in the week beginning 2 February.

Amid the spiralling crisis, average weekly downloads of apps in the first two weeks of February leapt by 40% compared to the average for the whole of 2019, according to the data provided to the Financial Times.

School closed
Image: With schools closed in China, there has been a spike in downloads of education apps

App Annie told the paper: “Downloads continued to grow well into the weeks following the lunar new year holidays as millions of workers and students (used) mobile apps to… resume daily activities remotely.”

With schools closed in many Chinese cities in a bid to curb the infection, downloads of education apps in February soared to twice the average rate for all of 2019.

The spike in downloads has bolstered the shares of games and apps manufacturers.

Shawn Yang, managing director at the investment bank Blue Lotus Capital Advisors, told the Financial Times: “No one expected that this kind of epidemic could grow so fast , and that created an opportunity for these gaming companies.”

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However, many other other businesses face a financial hit from the epidemic.

The outbreak threatens to cost airlines nearly $29bn (£22.5bn) this year due to a slump in world travel.

The International Air Transport Association predicted that demand will fall by 4.7% – the first drop since the financial crisis more than a decade ago.

The forecast comes after two major airline groups, Qantas and Air France-KLM, said they expected to take a significant financial hit as a result of the epidemic.

There have been a total of 76,243 suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19, the acute respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, according to the Johns Hopkins University which is mapping the outbreak.

The centre has so far recorded 2,247 deaths from the illness, with the vast majority of them in mainland China.

Travel restrictions inside China and fear of the illness have devastated demand for domestic flights in the fast-growing China market.

Many countries are warning against travel to China, or barring travellers from China, especially from the Wuhan area – the epicentre of the outbreak.

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International airlines including British Airways, Germany’s Lufthansa and the three largest US airlines have suspended flights to China, in some cases until late April or May.

People around the world are also voluntarily scaled back travel, while some governments and health experts are encouraging people to stay at home not only in China but also South Korea and Japan to avoid infection.

IATA director general said Alexandre de Juniac said: “These are challenging times for the global air transport industry. Stopping the spread of the virus is the top priority.

“This will be a very tough year for airlines.”

Meanwhile, car sales in China plummeted by 92% in the first 16 days of February, according to China Passenger Car Association (CPCA).

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