Toyota Motor said continued shortages of components due to the outbreak of the COVID19 coronavirus in China may affect production at its plants in Japan from next month, according to a Reuters report.

The coronavirus continues to spread and claim lives across the world with around 82,000 infections and 2,800 deaths reported worldwide so far. Most of these have occurred in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicentre of the virus outbreak.

The Japanese automaker said operations at key component suppliers in the Wuhan area remained disrupted by the shutdown ordered by the Hubei provincial authorities in January.

Some plants remain closed, while others are prohibited from transporting goods in and out of the province.

Supply chain shortages are likely to develop in the coming weeks if the shutdown in Wuhan continues, potentially affecting Toyota production in Japan from 9 March. 

Sixteen Japanese vehicle and component plants account for around half of Toyota global vehicle production.

The company said it would decide after next week how to continue operations.

A Toyota spokesman told Reuters "we are still receiving parts from China as normal for the moment but we will assess the situation after the week of 2 March".

The automaker has also cancelled all non essential travel by employees to help reduce the risk of coronavirus infections.