Uber suspending some rider accounts to fight spread of coronavirus

Uber is doing its bit to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by temporarily suspending the accounts of riders if it believes they may have come into contact with someone carrying the virus.

In Mexico, for example, Uber suspended the accounts of 240 riders that it said used one of two Uber vehicles that carried someone suspected of having the virus. It is believed that the two Uber drivers who transported the person in recent days have also been told to stop working. It’s not currently clear what kind of support, if any, Uber is offering the two drivers, who, so long as they don’t get ill, could be stopped from working for several weeks.

In a message posted on Twitter on Sunday, February 2, the company’s Mexican office said: “We will keep users and drivers informed regarding any update to their accounts,” adding that it is working with the authorities on the fast-changing situation. According to Reuters, nine suspected cases of coronavirus in Mexico have all been declared negative by local health experts, and at the time of writing there have been no confirmed cases in the country.

In Australia, where there have so far been 12 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, Uber says it is considering taking similar measures to those being taken in Mexico. Uber’s Australian office told the Sydney Morning Herald that it is monitoring the situation state by state and may remove an individual’s access to the app if the authorities report a case of the coronavirus.

As in Mexico, it is not clear how Uber will help any drivers that it asks to stop working after giving a ride to someone suspected of having the coronavirus. Australia’s Transport Workers Union, for one, has serious concerns, accusing the ridesharing giant of failing to offer adequate training and support regarding the virus.

There is no information yet on whether Uber’s U.S. operation is planning to take the same action as in Mexico and Australia, or how the company is supporting drivers in relation to the coronavirus outbreak. We’ve reached out to Uber and will update this article when we hear back.

According to an online tracker that pulls data from a number of official sources, the coronavirus has so far been linked to 362 deaths — most of them in mainland China where the outbreak began — with 16,831 confirmed cases, the vast majority of them in China. Eight cases have so far been confirmed in the U.S.

To combat the spread of misinformation about the coronavirus, Google recently launched its SOS Alerts system that places verified information about the virus at the top of search results. The online tracker is also a reliable source of information.

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