Amazon Tells Employees To Defer Travel As Coronavirus Impact Grows

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Worldwide shares show biggest drop since 2008 as supply chains are disrupted, major events are cancelled and companies cut back on business travel

Amazon has told employees to defer non-essential travel due to the coronavirus outbreak, including travel within the US, joining other companies in taking such measures.

The move is a significant escalation in outbreak containment measures by Amazon, which had previously placed restrictions only on travel to China.

The company has one of the US’ largest workforces, and employed nearly 800,000 full- and part-time staff worldwide as of the end of last year.

Amazon’s move came as the World Health Organisation (WHO) raised its impact risk alert to “very high”, a shift it said was intended to put world governments on notice that they should be prepared.

Novel coronavirus. Image credit: CDCC
Image credit: CDCC

Market impact

World shares last week registered their biggest weekly drop  since the 2008 financial crisis, erasing $5 trillion (£4tn) from shares worldwide, due to the disruption of supply chains, the cancellation of major events and a reduction in business travel.

The WHO said more than 82,000 people have been infected worldwide, with more than 2,700 deaths in China and 57 fatalities in 46 other countries.

Mexico, Nigeria, New Zealand, Lithuania, Belarus and Azerbaijan reported their first cases last week, all patients having had travel history connected to epicentres in Italy and Iran.

Japan, which has had more than 200 confirmed cases, is currently in talks over whether it should go ahead with hosting the 2020 Olympics in July.

Significant tech events including Mobile World Congress and Facebook’s F8 developer conference have been cancelled due to the virus.

‘Plague’ game banned

Within China, authorities have begun cracking down on discourse and media related to the outbreak.

Late last week the popular game “Plague, Inc.” was removed from Apple’s China app store after regulators said it contained illegal content.

The game, first launched eight years ago, has soared in popularity worldwide in recent weeks and reached the top of the China app store charts in January.

The game, in which players compete to spread a virus internationally, currently has more than 130 million players around the world.

The game’s UK-based developer, Ndemic Creations, said it was “sad” that regulators had banned the game and that it was working “very hard” to reverse the decision.

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