Wires

Uber suspends 240 accounts in Mexico to prevent coronavirus spreading

Diego Oré

MEXICO CITY, Feb 1 (Reuters) - U.S. ride-hailing application Uber Technologies Inc. said on Saturday that it suspended 240 accounts of users in Mexico who may recently have come in contact with someone possibly infected with the new coronavirus.

The newly identified coronavirus, which is believed to have originated late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in Wuhan, China, has created alarm because it spreads quickly and there are still important unknowns surrounding it.

There are no confirmed cases in Mexico and all nine suspected cases were later declared negative.

Uber said in a statement posted on its Twitter account that two drivers may have transported a user who is possibly infected with the new coronavirus. It added the suspended users should contact health authorities if they develop symptoms.

For more detail on the nature of the virus please see FACTBOX

Like other respiratory infections, the virus spreads between people in droplets from coughs and sneezes. It has an incubation period of between one and 14 days, and there are some limited signs it may also be able to spread before any symptoms show.

It is still too early to know what its death rate will be, since there are likely to be many cases of milder disease going undetected. So far, it has been deadly in 259 cases.

Mexican state news agency Notimex reported on Saturday that 18 of the 52 Mexican students who are studying in China had returned. Notimex did not specify whether the students are in quarantine.

(Reporting by Diego Ore; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Andrea Ricci)