Facebook Shutters London Offices After Coronavirus Infection

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Company closes offices for ‘deep cleaning’ after visiting employee from Singapore diagnosed with coronavirus, as tech companies see impact around the world

Facebook closed its London offices over the weekend as a precautionary measure after an employee visiting from Singapore was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.

The company said the employee in question visited on Monday, 24 February.  As a result Facebook said it would close its London offices for “deep cleaning” over the weekend, while staff worked from home.

The company said it planned to reopen the offices on Monday.

The move comes as tech companies look for ways to contain the impact of the virus, which surpassed 100,000 cases worldwide for the first time last week.

Novel coronavirus. Image credit: CDCC
Image credit: CDCC

Disruption

The outbreak has led to the cancellation of several major tech events, including Mobile World Congress and Facebook’s F8 developer conference, while disrupting supply chains and weighing on shares worldwide.

As of the weekend the virus was known to have infected more than 100,000 people, with more than 3,400 deaths and more than 56,000 having recovered.

Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft have advised employees in the Seattle area to work from home, affecting more than 100,000 people in the area.

Facebook and Google also recommended staff in the San Francisco Bay Area to work from home as of late last week, to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

Facebook said it was “strongly recommending” that all Bay Area employees and contingent staff work from home starting on Friday, based on guidance from Santa Clara County.

Employees and contractors involved in the campus’ safety and security were to continue working on site, with all Bay Area events remaining cancelled, Facebook said.

Smartphone production affected

Google offered a separate work-from-home option to Bay Area employees, while Microsoft confirmed that two of its employees had been diagnosed with the virus, designated Covid-19.

One employee works for Microsoft itself and the other for Microsoft-owned LinkedIn, with both being based in Puget Sound, the company said.

In South Korea, Samsung said it planned to close a smartphone factory in the southern city of Gumi until Saturday after a worker tested positive for the coronavirus.

Samsung said it would temporarily transfer production from the site to Vietnam.

“Once the Covid-19 situation stabilises, we plan to move back the output to Gumi,” Samsung said.

Teleconferencing firm Zoom is one company benefiting from the outbreak, as investors bet that its technology will receive a boost from larger numbers of staff working from home.

Zoom, which had a successful market debut last year, saw its shares rise 6 percent last Thursday, lifting the company’s overall value to $35 billion (£27bn), twice its valuation three months ago.

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