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.

Regional director of Cheltenham Racecourse, Ian Renton, expects the 2020 Festival to go ahead as planned

"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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BHA chief executive Nick Rust told a Betfair podcast: "In terms of potential ramifications for the Festival, any decision that impacts on it taking place will not be a decision that racing makes, but rather the Government.

"In the event that the Cheltenham Festival was postponed either in its entirety or in part for any reason, there are contingencies already in place to re-stage it later in the season."

However the racecourse's regional director Ian Renton stressed the meeting is highly likely to go ahead.

"At the moment there is nothing to push us off course," he added.