Nearly 60,000 people in China have been infected with Covid-19, according to official figures.

Mowi lays off Chinese staff because of virus impact

The world’s biggest fish farmer, Mowi, has laid off workers at a factory in China because of the effects of the outbreak of coronavirus there, Norwegian media outlet E24 has reported.

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Almost all salmon sold in China is eaten in restaurants. Travel bans, nightlife restrictions and fear of infection therefore mean that the country is now virtually closed to salmon imports.

“When people stay in, it means for the time being that China does not buy salmon, neither from Mowi nor others,” Mowi chief executive Ivan Vindheim told E24.

Ivan Vindheim: "There is a full stop, nothing happens there."

Significant market

“It’s a significant market, and we’re losing our share of it, so it has an effect on price and earnings in the short term, but we think China is coming back,” he added.

Vindheim estimates that China represents an annual market of around 120,000 tonnes, and that Mowi has a market share of around 20%.

Mowi has around 50 employees in China, the majority of whom work at the factory in Shanghai.

“Everyone at the factory is laid off now, there is a full stop and nothing happens there,” said Vindheim.

In China, 1,368 are reported to have died from coronavirus, which the World Health Organisation has re-named Covid-19. Nearly 60,000 in China have been infected with the virus.