Apple is closing all of its stores outside China until 27 March in an attempt to slow the spread of the new coronavirus outbreak, CEO Tim Cook said.

Mr Cook said the firm had learned from steps taken in China, where the tech giant has just reopened its retail stores.

"One of those lessons is that the most effective way to minimise risk of the virus's transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance," he said in a statement.

"As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we're taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers."

Apple reopened all 42 of its branded stores in China, more than a month after they were shut due to fears over the coronavirus outbreak.

Apple's China website has listed the opening time for all stores, which vary from 10am to 11am local time.

The website had previously carried an advisory saying not all stores were open.

China placed curbs on travel and asked residents to avoid public places in late January, just ahead of the Lunar New Year festival.

Those restrictions stayed largely in place through most of February.

The company sold fewer than half a million iPhones in China in February, government data showed during the week, as the outbreak halved demand for smartphones.

Apple had announced the closure of its branded stores in early February.