Tech giant Google has temporarily shut down its offices in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan in an effort to protect their staff from the Chinese-born Coronavirus.
Microsoft and Amazon have also taken action to prevent the spread of the virus, which has already claimed the lives of more than 160 people and infected 7,800.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we are restricting business travel to and from China until further notice and encouraging our employees to follow the health and safety guidelines provided by international health agencies”, an Amazon spokesperson told the BBC.
Google said it has stopped employees travelling to China and Hong Kong and advised those employees currently in the country to leave as soon as possible. Staff are being asked to work from home for a minimum of two weeks or to extend their Lunar New Year holiday.
Although Google’s search engine is banned from China, the company has four offices there that focus on sales and engineering for its advertising arm. The company has not said how many employees work across its four offices.
Facebook was the first major company to instruct its staff to avoid travelling to China due to the virus, which has been confirmed in all Chinese regions.
US car manufacturer General Motors has decided to extend its Lunar New Year holiday plant closure until the 9th of February. Toyota made a similar announcement, which it said was in line with transport lockdowns imposed by the Chinese Government.
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Several other car companies have said they are working to bring home their staff based in Wuhan, China’s seventh biggest city and ground-zero for the virus outbreak.
PSA, Honda and Nissan plan to evacuate employees and their families from China. Several major airlines, including British Airways, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa and Finnair, are cutting the number of flights they operate to China or are halting flights to the country altogether.
Russia has ordered the closure of its massive land border with China in an effort to stop the virus spreading into the country. While no cases have been detected in Russia there have been about 100 cases confirmed outside of China, with infection detected in Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand and Singapore.
The deadly coronavirus is capable of human-to-human transmission and clinical signs and symptoms include fever, difficulty in breathing, and chest radiographs showing bilateral lung infiltrates, according to the World Health Organisation, (WHO).
It is expected the virus will soon overtake the 2003 Sars infection, which infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774 people in 2003.