The Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak Impacts the Manufacture and Delivery of New Oculus Quest VR Headsets: Facebook Announces That the Quest Is Now Unavailable In Most Countries

Thanks to the Wuhan coronavirus, the Oculus Quest is unavailable

For the past two weeks—since January 25th, 2020, when there were only 1,438 cases—I have been trying to balance my coverage of “social VR, virtual worlds, and metaverse” (as the tagline of my blog states) with coverage of the rapidly-evolving global health crisis that is the Wuhan coronavirus (more formally known as 2019-nCoV, at least until the authorities give it a proper name or acronym).

There have been many reports in the mainstream news media that the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in China will negatively impact the manufacture and delivery of everything from pharmaceutical ingredients to automotive parts. Yesterday, the Road to VR website published a news report that illustrates the growing impact that the 2019-nCoV situation is having on the manufacture of VR technology. (Yes, this story is about both virtual reality and the coronavirus. It was bound to happen eventually!)

Titled Facebook Expects Coronavirus Will Have “Additional Impact” on Oculus Quest Availability, the article says:

After being back-ordered by weeks in many regions, Oculus Quest is now “unavailable” from Oculus in 17 out of 23 regions where the unit is sold, including the United States, Canada, and much of Europe. Facebook says the Coronavirus outbreak is to blame.

Responding to a Road to VR inquiry about Oculus Quest becoming “unavailable” in many regions, a Facebook spokesperson shared the following statement:

“Oculus Quest has been selling out in some regions due to high demand. That said, like other companies we’re expecting some additional impact to our hardware production due to the Coronavirus. We’re taking precautions to ensure the safety of our employees, manufacturing partners and customers, and are monitoring the situation closely.”

At the time of writing, the Oculus Quest is now unavailable in the following 17 regions: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.

Facebook gave no indication of when it expects the Oculus Quest to be once again available. Given the severe impact that the coronavirus is having on China’s economy, it seems unlikely that we will see any new stock of Oculus Quest VR headsets available anytime soon. How this might impact other Facebook plans for 2020—including the impending beta launch of their social VR platform, Horizon—remains to be seen. (But you can expect resellers on eBay and other places to take advantage of the situation and start selling Oculus Quests at a premium to those people still eager to get their hands on one.)

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Wuhan Coronavirus/2019-nCoV Update: February 7th, 2020

I took yesterday off from blogging about the 2019-nCoV virus (soon to receive an official name), and I do plan to take more breaks as necessary in the coming days and weeks, as a self-care measure.

Like many of you, I find myself worrying a lot about the current situation, and every so often I need to step away from all the news feeds and focus on other tasks on my “to-do” list for February.

So, don’t expect daily coronavirus updates from here on out.


Spread of the Wuhan coronavirus in mainland China (source: BBC)

Yesterday, The New York Times reported (archived copy) that the Chinese government was taking even more draconian measures to stem the spread of the 2019-nCoV virus at the outbreak’s epicenter in the city of Wuhan:

The Chinese authorities resorted to increasingly extreme measures in Wuhan on Thursday to try to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus, ordering house-to-house searches, rounding up the sick and warehousing them in enormous quarantine centers.

The urgent, seemingly improvised steps come amid a worsening humanitarian crisis in Wuhan, one exacerbated by tactics that have left this city of 11 million with a death rate from the coronavirus of 4.1 percent as of Thursday — staggeringly higher than the rest of the country’s rate of 0.17 percent.

With the sick being herded into makeshift quarantine camps, with minimal medical care, a growing sense of abandonment and fear has taken hold in Wuhan, fueling the sense that the city and surrounding province of Hubei are being sacrificed for the greater good of China.

The harsh new moves in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, clearly signaled the ruling Communist Party’s alarm that it had failed to gain control of the coronavirus epidemic, which has overwhelmed the country’s health care system and threatened to paralyze China, the world’s most populous country and second-largest economy.

The steps were announced by the top official leading the country’s response to the virus, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, as she visited Wuhan on Thursday. They evoked images of the emergency measures taken to combat the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic that killed tens of millions people worldwide. Despite the severity of the new measures, however, they offered no guarantee of success.

Meanwhile, the number of cases on a cruise ship docked at Yokohama, Japan has reached 61, a testament to how easily the 2019-nCoV virus can be transmitted in close quarters. Among those infected are several Canadian tourists. All passengers on the cruise ship have been confined to their cabins in an attempt to stop further spread of the virus.

CBC interviewed some Canadian passengers in quarantine on the cruise ship:

Passengers from Toronto aboard a cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Japan after a coronavirus outbreak are questioning how they’ll cope for two weeks restricted to cramped cabins.

“We have no window. We have no daylight. They haven’t let us out yet for fresh air,” said Lana Chan.

“We’ve been cooped up in this little room for two and a half days now.”

Chan is travelling with three friends on the Diamond Princess, along with some 3,700 other people. She’s rooming with one of them in a 180-square-foot room in the ship’s interior.

Even worse, the World Health Organization has confirmed that the 14-day quarantine period resets every time a new infected person is found on the cruise ship. Those poor people may be cooped up in their tiny cabins for a long time!


Good Sources of Information on 2019-nCoV

Here is my list of good, credible, authoritative resources to learn more about the Wuhan coronoavirus (more formally known as 2019-nCoV):

If you want a quick, up-to-date overview of the current situation, here are three good places to check:


Sources of Fast-Breaking News on 2019-nCoV (WARNING: News You Read Here May Not Be 100% Credible!)

PLEASE READ: In addition to the sources listed in the previous section, there are other places you can check, which might have reports (including translated links to local social media in China) that have not yet made the mainstream news media. Please keep in mind that the situation in China is chaotic, and that some of the information you find in the sources I list below might be gossip, rumours, hoaxes, conspiracy theories, misinformation, or disinformation! 

Please review the information and videos I posted in my blogpost about How to Spot Fake News, BEFORE using any of these links.

Stay healthy!