Participating galleries have urged organisers to cancel the eighth edition of Hong Kong Art Basel, a privately owned and managed international art fair, owing to the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Art Basel’s lead sponsor UBS recently asked their employees in Hong Kong to work from home after China visit.

The eighth edition of Art Basel Hong Kong is scheduled to be held in March this year, with around 241 galleries from 31 countries among the participants.

In this regard, Bloomberg quoted a letter sent to the organisers by London-based dealer Richard Nagy.

The letter read: “Regretfully, we believe this situation needs decisive leadership and the fatally wounded Art Basel Hong Kong 2020 needs to be put out of its misery and quickly.

“Having taken soundings and we can tell you, not one of our foreign clients will be attending and they are surprised the fair is still on.

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“There is absolutely no doubt in our minds that this art fair is now commercially on artificial life support.”

A year ago, Art Basel Hong Kong attracted 88,000 people. Apart from Hong Kong, the art fair is also held in Basel as well as Miami.

World Health Organization (WHO) has now declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

The Chinese city of Wuhan is the epicentre of the novel coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of 213 people so far. The number of people infected with the virus has reached 9,776.

Over 22 countries outside China have confirmed coronavirus cases to date, including the US, Philippines, India, and Italy.

In Hong Kong, more than 10 confirmed cases have been reported. The city has shuttered museums, concert halls, theatres, and schools in response to the crisis.

Similar measures have been adopted by other banks operating in the city including Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered, and Goldman Sachs.

China enforced transport restrictions to different cities, including Wuhan, to contain the spread of the coronavirus.