Public banned from going to race meetings over coronavirus fears

The coronavirus situation has escalated overseas with just 12 days to go until the start of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.

The Japan Racing Association told racing fans they would not be allowed to attend fixtures at Nakayama, Chukyo and Hanshin at the weekend, as precautions are taken to limit the spread of the bug.

Two more cases were confirmed in the UK on Thursday and both patients are thought to have become infected in Europe.

Worldwide it has affected over 81,300 people and 2,770 have died, a situation Cheltenham Racecourse chiefs are monitoring closely with their prestigious fixture on the horizon.

A statement from the JRA said: "In measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Japan Racing Association has announced that the public will not be permitted to enter JRA racecourses from Saturday, Feb 29 until further notice.

"JRA races will be held without any spectators."

Hong Kong and Korea are other countries that have also taken action in the industry.

In the UK, members of a special steering group with representatives from the BHA, Racecourse Association and horsemen are keeping a close eye on the situation.

A meeting was held at Cheltenham Racecourse on Monday morning to discuss final plans for The Festival on March 10-13.

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