Corporate giants around the world are increasing travel precautions and cutting down on unnecessary international business trips for employees as coronavirus escalates. Precautionary measures, which were initially restricted to parts of Asia and northern Italy where the virus is prevalent, have been expanded.
Nestlé, L’Oreal, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Unilever, UniCredit, and Prosus, are among the top corporations that have restricted or placed a complete ban on employees’ business travels for now.
One of the world’s largest food companies, Nestlé SA said on Thursday, February 27 that it has asked all of its employees not to travel internationally for business until mid-March. According to a statement by a spokesperson for the company, domestic travel should be replaced by “alternative methods of communication where possible.” The company employs 291,000 people globally.
Similarly, JPMorgan Chase & Co., a New York-based investment bank, in a memo to its employees states that given the broadening spread of the virus, it is “restricting all international travel to essential travel only,” a spokesperson confirmed to Reuters. The financial institution is implementing this new move with aims to protect its employees and business.
In the memo, the Bank further advised its staff to consider certain conditions like the possibility of postponing a meeting, chances of holding meetings remotely, and travel risk on them or the firm, before deciding to travel. The bank encouraged employees to take their laptops and power cords home to test their remote access capabilities. JPMorgan Chase & Co. has 256,000 employees globally.
While L’Oreal also suspended all business trips until the end of March, Unilever said it has been restricting travel to and from northern Italy and other affected countries, limiting it to “business-critical travel only.”
The 2019 coronavirus, officially named as Covid-19 by the WHO, has spread to 54 more countries apart from China, its country of origin, causing global public health authorities much panic. 83,386 cases have been confirmed (including 78,927 in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau).
As of today, February 28, there has been a record of 2,860 deaths across the world – 2,794 in China, 26 in Iran, 17 in Italy, 13 in South Korea, 9 in Japan, 2 in France and 1 each in the Philippines and Taiwan. Meanwhile, Nigeria has confirmed the first case of the virus in the sub-Saharan African region.
Though it was declared a global health emergency few weeks ago, it is not clear if the virus outbreak would be classified as a pandemic, a designation the World Health Organization recently said it does not use anymore. However, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General said during a daily briefing in Geneva that “the outbreak can go in any direction based on how we handle it.”