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Coronavirus: Google, Twitter tell some employees to work from home

Tech firms Google and Twitter are telling some of their employees to work from home as COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, continues to spread around the world.

Twitter’s chief human resources officer, Jennifer Christie, posted a message online on Monday, March 2, saying that the company is “strongly encouraging” its 5,000 or so staff at 35 offices globally to work from home, if possible.

“Our goal is to lower the probability of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus for us — and the world around us,” Christie wrote. “We are operating out of an abundance of caution and the utmost dedication to keeping our Tweeps healthy.”

Square, the online payments company, which, like Twitter, is led by Jack Dorsey, has issued the same advice to its 4,000 workers.

The decision follows a move by Twitter at the end of last week to suspend all non-critical business travel and events at the social networking company. It said the policy will stay in place until the World Health Organization or Centers for Disease Control give the green light to end measures being taken in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

Similar action has been taken by Google’s Ireland-based operation, which told workers at some of its offices to work from home on Tuesday as a preparedness measure for possible longer office closures in the coming weeks. However, workers at one of its offices will stay home for longer as a safety measure after one of the employees developed flu-like symptoms. They’re not expected to return until the worker’s condition has been diagnosed.

The web giant, which employs 8,000 people in Dublin, told local media: “We continue to take precautionary measures to protect the health and safety of our workforce, and as part of that effort we have asked our Dublin teams to work from home tomorrow.”

With the virus continuing to spread, the tech sector is experiencing growing disruption, with industry events canceled, sales dented, factories closing, and upcoming festivals such as South by Southwest losing major attendees.

At the time of writing, more than 3,100 people globally have died as a result of coronavirus, the vast majority in China. More than 90,000 cases have been reported around the world, with infections in more than 70 countries. U.S. cases topped 100 on Monday along with six deaths — Washington and California appear to be the worst affected states.

Beware of misinformation doing the rounds online regarding COVID-19. For accurate updates, check out the World Health Organization‘s website. An online dashboard set up by the Maryland-based Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University also offers up-to-date statistics from around the world.

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