200122 virus
Commuters wearing face masks walk in Hankou railway station in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province on January 21, 2020. Image Credit: AFP

New York: The travel and lodging industries were hit hard Tuesday as a virus in China claimed more victims and spread outside that nation’s borders.

A US citizen who who had recently returned from China was diagnosed with the new virus in the Seattle area, making the United States the fifth country to report a case, following China, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea.

Anxiety is growing both at home and abroad after a Chinese government expert confirmed fears that the new type of coronavirus can spread from human to human. Six people have died and 291 have been infected in China. The US resident is in his 30s and was in good condition Tuesday at a hospital in Everett, outside Seattle. He’s not considered a threat to medical staff or the public, health officials said.

Read more

The outbreak is taking place during the Lunar New Year, when the Chinese government has estimated people will make around 3 billion trips. That celebration begins Saturday. While those numbers may fall as word of the virus spreads, shares of public companies in the travel industry sold off sharply, particularly those with international exposure.

The stock of United Airlines’ parent fell 5.4 per cent, Delta lost more than 4 per cent, and American Airlines fell almost 5 per cent. The outbreak is believed to have started in Wuhan in central China. None of the US airlines fly to Wuhan, but their Chinese partner airlines do, and some passengers do transfer from a Chinese carrier to an American one.

Marriott and InterContinental Hotels fell almost 4 per cent. Royal Caribbean Cruises slid 4.6 per cent, while Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings fell around 3 per cent.

Resorts and casinos, particularly those with holdings near China, tumbled. Wynn Resorts plunged 7 per cent. Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts fell more than 5 per cent each.