Coronavirus: Multinational Companies place travel ban on workers after the outbreak

Ford, Facebook, and other high-profile companies have barred their employees from traveling to China as the deadly coronavirus continues to fester.

The Wuhan virus has claimed more than 100 lives and caused corporations across China to shut down operations. Currently, companies are limiting business trips to the country, with some of the corporations telling their employees to stay at home if they have visited China recently.

Facebook issued a warning to its employees asking them to suspend non-essential travel to the Chinese mainland, in line with the guidance from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC’s level 3 warning, its highest-degree alert, cautioned travelers to refrain from going to China. Facebook also asked its employees who had recently returned from China to work from home for an indefinitely.

Johnson & Johnson said their employees can only travel to China for critical business situations which has to be approved by its senior leadership, a spokesperson said. The company told staff returning from China to countries such as the United States of America to expect increased scrutiny, also asking them to work from home if they were coming back from Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located.

In the same vein, Japanese car manufacturer Nissan is evacuating employees from its Wuhan-based operations. A spokesperson for Nissan said that “Japanese expatriates and their family members in Wuhan will be returned to Japan on the Japanese government’s charter flight, excluding some who will remain.”

Goldman Sachs took the same steps as others. Meanwhile, Ford banned travel to, from and inside China, telling employees who had traveled there to quarantine themselves for 14 days after returning.

Last Thursday, a General Motors spokesperson said that none of its employees had contracted the virus and that it had restricted trips to China with exceptions for “business-critical needs.” The representative added that its offices and plants in the country have been closed since January 24 for the traditional Lunar New Year festival.

Standard Chartered Bank of United Kingdom also limited travel to China, telling employees to limit face-to-face meetings as well as any work in China and Hong Kong. It went ahead to offer workers guidance on how to disinfect their buildings and recognise the symptoms of the virus.

As of Tuesday, 106 people had died from the virus and 4,610 had contracted it, according to Chinese health authorities. The spread of the disease prompted Hong Kong to close its borders with the mainland, and it has led companies such as Starbucks and McDonald’s to shut down operations in Wuhan.

The Chinese government is taking serious measures to curb the spread of the virus. It has imposed travel restrictions on about 60 million people.

Johnson & Johnson is donating 300 boxes of its HIV medication Prezcobix to the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center, which requested it after a research agency recommended testing to see if the drug could treat the coronavirus, the spokesperson said.

The Center for Disease Control said the virus was not spreading in the country and the public health risk was low. Five cases of the virus have been confirmed in the United States.

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