Coronavirus outbreak prompts Google to temporarily close China offices

Google announced that the company is temporarily shutting down its offices in China due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

The Verge reports that Google’s offices in mainland China, as well as in Hong Kong and Taiwan, will remain closed past the Lunar New Year holiday, per government guidance. The tech giant also said it is placing temporary restrictions on business travel for its employees, as well as advising any employees who have recently traveled to work from home for at least 14 days after their return date.

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Google’s China offices focus mainly on sales and engineering for its advertising business since the search engine remains blocked there. Google told Digital Trends it is keeping its China-based employees updated as the situation changes. 

The company also said it is supporting relief efforts in China and has so far issued a $250,000 direct grant to the Chinese Red Cross and launched an internal campaign with more than $500,000 raised so far. 

Aside from Google, other tech companies like Apple are scrambling to deal with how the coronavirus could affect sales. On Tuesday, Apple outlined its steps in mitigation planning in light of the outbreak in China. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the company is monitoring the situation closely since the company relies on China to manufacture much of its products. 

There have been five confirmed cases of the quickly spreading coronavirus in the U.S., but China’s numbers are much higher. There have been more than 6,000 cases throughout China and more than 130 deaths. Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and these symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after initial exposure. 

The virus is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, but there have been confirmed cases in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, and more countries throughout the globe, causing massive travel discrepancies. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it would expand screening for coronavirus to a total of 20 U.S. airports. 

There’s a helpful online tool that brings together reliable data from several organizations from around the world to display the number of confirmed and suspected cases of the coronavirus, as well as deaths. The dashboard is continuously updated as more information about the coronavirus unfolds. 

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