PSA is extending its shutdown of manufacturing in China to 12 March as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, but says there is no significant impact on Group results.

The National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China has recorded 2,563 fatalities in the country so far from the coronavirus, although the rate of infection appears to have slowed substantially from its peak.

Beijing has imposed swingeing restrictions on movement, particularly in the Hubei Province where the epicentre of the virus, Wuhan, is situated and the draconian measures appear to be slowing the spread of the highly contagious disease.

However, in a worrying development, the coronavirus is starting to make itself felt more widely outside China’s borders, with Italy now recording seven deaths and Rome asking ten towns in the north of the country to severely limit human movement in and out.

PSA’s 38 staff in Wuhan returned to France in early February on a repatriation flight organised by Paris, with the manufacturer noting it will be guided by China’s decisions on whether to reopen or not.

“Carmakers’ and suppliers’ manufacturing activities in China were suspended [while] resumption of activity will depend on Chinese authorities’ decisions,” said a statement sent to just-auto by PSA.

“Impact of this suspension of DPCA activity is not significant on Group results at this stage. DPCA and PSA teams are preparing themselves to resume work and recover a normal level of activity as soon as possible [12 March] and will do their best to catch up negative impacts on [the] local market.

“Until now, outside China, our modular manufacturing sites and our multi energy platforms give us flexibility to allocate production between ICE and LEV versions. There is no significant impact on Group results.”

The enormous impact of the coronavirus on economic activity can be gauged by new passenger vehicle sales in China plunging by 92% in the first two weeks of February, according to the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA).

With a number of major cities under lock-down in response to the recent outbreak of the COVID19 coronavirus, business activity in much of the country ground to a virtual halt in early February.

Travel within China and flights in and out of the country have been severely curtailed.