Tourists at upmarket Club Med ski resort in China hit by novovirus

BEIJING (AFP) - Dozens of tourists celebrating the Chinese New Year at an upmarket ski resort in north-eastern China have been struck down by novovirus, the winter vomiting bug, the tour operator admitted.

French luxury holiday group Club Med expressed its regret, saying it took the outbreak - which saw guests suffer from vomiting and diarrhoea - "very seriously".

"We plan to offer all customers who have been affected by the virus compensation equivalent to three times the price they spent," Club Med said in a statement.

The company has said 42 people reported abnormal symptoms, eight of whom were seen by a doctor, although none required hospital treatment.

However, the China Daily newspaper quoted tourists on Wednesday as saying "more than 200" people had been affected, and there were accusations on Chinese social media the company had underestimated the number of people involved.

The hotel at the Yabuli ski resort in Heilongjiang province is being disinfected, according to the company, but the origin of the infection has not yet been identified.

Chinese conglomerate Fosun bought Club Med in 2015 for more than US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion).

China is now Club Med's biggest market outside France, with six resorts in operation and four others planned to open by the end 2020.

Fosun Group is one of China's "grey rhino" companies - along with Wanda, HNA and Anbang - that have come under scrutiny from mainland authorities wanting to crack down on debt-fuelled foreign acquisitions.