Taipei, March 6 (CNA) Visitor numbers to the National Palace Museum (NPM) in Taipei plunged dramatically in February as the global novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak discouraged travel and outings in public venues.
Only 62,144 people visited the popular tourist attraction in February, down 85 percent from the 407,593 visitors in February 2019 and down about 70 percent from the previous month, according to figures released Friday by the museum.
In January, 207,677 people visited the NPM, down about 44 percent from the same period a year earlier.
The large drop in visitors is the result of the current coronavirus outbreak, which has affected Taiwan's tourism sector and denied the museum of overseas tourists, who usually have it high on their list of things to see.
To prevent the spread of the disease, the NPM has shortened operating hours to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays and will be closed Mondays until the end of March, according to the museum's website.
Attendance at other arts and culture venues is also expected to be affected, such as Taiwan's National Theater and Concert Hall, after an Australian composer who recently performed there on Feb. 28 and March 1 was diagnosed with the COVID-19 disease.
The National Concert Hall, one of two main buildings in the performing arts complex, was shut down Friday for disinfection, and all shows and events were canceled.
As of Friday, Taiwan had reported 45 cases of the virus, including one fatality and 12 who have been discharged from hospitals after recovering.