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Tech firm tells 1,000 staff to stay away due to virus fears

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Concerns: Indeed’s office, in Capital Dock, Dublin, is undergoing a deep clean by staff in protective clothing

Concerns: Indeed’s office, in Capital Dock, Dublin, is undergoing a deep clean by staff in protective clothing

Concerns: Indeed’s office, in Capital Dock, Dublin, is undergoing a deep clean by staff in protective clothing

Around 1,000 Dublin-based staff at one of the country's biggest tech multinationals have been told to stay away from their offices until February 17 to prevent possible exposure to coronavirus.

Recruitment firm Indeed confirmed yesterday it has told all staff in its two Dublin offices to work from home amid concerns of possible exposure to the coronavirus via its office in Singapore.

The Asian city-state is one of the worst hit countries outside China and has seen 33 cases of coronavirus confirmed so far, with significant disruption to businesses.

Indeed's decision to shut its offices is the most striking sign yet that the economic disruption linked to the outbreak has now spread here.

In the UK a British man has been dubbed "a superspreader" of the coronavirus after he attended a conference in Singapore from January 20 to 22 and went on to pass on the virus to 11 people in three countries, including France and the UK.

There have been no cases of the coronavirus in Ireland so far and more than 30 patients have tested negative for the illness.

Indeed said it took the decision to ask staff to work from home after family members of an employee in the Singapore office were tested for coronavirus, including one person who was hospitalised with pneumonia.

A deep clean of Indeed's two otherwise deserted Dublin offices was under way yesterday by staff in heavy protective clothing.

The Irish and Australian offices were shut as a precaution because some staff who had visited Singapore were also in the company's Dublin and Sydney office recently, Indeed said.

The company said it had notified the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The Department of Health said it would not provide information about "individual activations of preparedness".

Asked if it intended to follow the UK and make quarantine mandatory in specific cases, a spokeswoman for the department said it is "not currently planning additional measures related to quarantine or enforced isolation".

Indeed confirmed its Dublin office has been closed out of an "abundance of caution".

"One of Indeed's employees in Singapore may have been exposed to coronavirus after their family members visited a facility caring for a coronavirus patient," a spokesperson for Indeed told the Irish Independent.

"While there are no confirmed cases of infection, out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our employees, we have asked all employees in Singapore, along with anyone who has recently visited our Singapore offices, to work from home until February 17.

"Since some employees who visited Singapore have recently visited our Sydney and Dublin offices, we are asking all employees in the Dublin and Sydney offices to work from home until we have received confirmation," it added.

The company said it is "deeply concerned" about the employee's family in Singapore.

Indeed is "in close communication with this employee and ensuring that they are getting the care and support they need", it added in the email to staff seen by the Irish Independent.

One Indeed employee in Dublin said it was "business as usual" working from home.

The staff member, who asked not to be identified, said that they were able to work as normal with their laptop and that everything was "perfectly fine".

Indeed employs about 9,000 people globally, with around 1,000 of those based in Dublin.

The normal self-isolation period for someone who is not infected but may have been exposed is 14 days.

Meanwhile, the total number of deaths in China is now 908 - but the number of newly infected people per day has stabilised.

Across China, 40,171 people are infected while 187,518 are under medical observation.

Some 60 more people have tested positive on a cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Japan where two Irish people are passengers.

In total, 130 out of 3,700 passengers and staff have caught the virus.

Irish Independent