Twitter staff across the world were asked to work from home starting Monday in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly new coronavirus epidemic.
The outbreak has spread across the world since emerging in central China late last year, killing more than 3,100 people, infecting over 90,000, and prompting a wave of travel restrictions. The social media platform’s decision to ask its staff to avoid the office follows similar requests by governments in virus hotspots. Working from home will be mandatory for employees at the company’s South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan offices, Christie said.
South Korea has recorded nearly 5,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections — the largest number outside mainland China — along with 28 deaths. More than half of the cases have been linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a secretive religious group often described as a cult.
Japan’s government has urged the closure of schools nationwide and employers to give their staff permission to work remotely.
Most civil servants in Hong Kong returned to work on Monday after they were asked to work from home for a month. The financial hub has recorded 100 cases of the infection. Twitter had already announced the suspension of “non-critical” business travel and events last week.
Other leading technology companies, including Facebook and Google, have postponed or cancelled conferences in the US. Facebook has also joined Twitter by pulling out of South by Southwest. Staff at Google’s European headquarters in Dublin will work from home on Tuesday as the company tests its preparedness for a potential outbreak in Ireland, but most of the 8,000 workers are expected to return to their desks on Wednesday. At the same time companies, including telecoms operator A&T and banking giant Citigroup, have restricted international travel, especially to Asia. The announcement comes as deaths due to the coronavirus around the world have passed 3,000 as the outbreak spreads from Asia to the US, Europe and the Middle East.