The Trump administration is reportedly considering banning all flights between the U.S. and China in an effort to restrict the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The consideration comes as some U.S. airlines have already begun to cancel flights due to a sharp drop in demand.
Administration officials phoned airline executives Tuesday to alert them to the possible policy move, CNBC reported citing people familiar with the situation.
The coronavirus broke out in Wuhan, an inland city of 11 million people in Hubei province about a month ago. It has since infected more than 4500 people and claimed more than 125 lives. Cases have been reported in the U.S., France, Germany, Singapore, Japan and elsewhere in Asia.
The disease causes pneumonia-like symptoms in its victims.
United Airlines said it is canceling flights to and from Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing starting Feb. 1 for at least a week because it has seen a sharp drop off in demand. Other U.S. carriers potentially affected by a ban are Delta and American AAL.
Global markets have been shaken by fears the virus could cause a sharp economic slowdown in China that could have ripple effects all over the world. Stabucks noted Tuesday that it is closing half its stores in China to help combat the spread of the disease. Disney’s Shanghai theme park has also been closed.
The virus has also raised concerns over potential supply disruptions for big U.S. tech firms including Apple Inc. Apple posted better-than-expected resultsfor its latest quarter, after the close of trading Tuesday.