Coronavirus outbreak: Facebook bans its employees from going to China

Facebook has asked employees to suspend non-essential travel to mainland China to prevent the spread of the coronavirus

Facebook has started banning employee travel to China as the deadly Coronovirus outbreak continues to spread at an unprecedented rate across the world, according to sources familiar with the decision.

Facebook bans employees from going to China

Facebook has asked employees to cancel non-essential travel to mainland China in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, a spokesperson said on Tuesday. The restriction came into effect on Monday and requires workers who have to visit the country to seek additional approval.

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"Out of an abundance of caution, we have taken steps to protect the health and safety of our employees," a company spokesperson told Reuters. Employees of the company based in China, and those who have returned from trips to the country, have also been instructed to work from home, according to people who asked not to be identified as this is sensitive information.

It is unclear whether this ban will affect its business operations in the country. Although Facebook is banned in China, the company does have offices in China and uses local suppliers for manufacturing its Oculus virtual reality headsets as well as its Portal family of video chat devices.

Coronavirus death toll crosses 100

On Tuesday, China confirmed that 106 people had died from the deadly virus, up from the previous death toll of 81. The number of total confirmed cases in China has shot up to 4,515 as of Monday, according to the country's National Health Commission, up from 2.835 reported a day earlier. There were nearly 7,000 more cases suspected and awaiting confirmation, according to the commission.

Coronavirus spread
A screenshot of the online dashboard that shows the spread of the Coronavirus worldwide. Center for Systems Science and Engineering

The Coronavirus belongs to a family of viruses that include the deadly SARS and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and exhibits pneumonia-like symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough, fever, sore throat.

The virus was first reported to the WHO on Dec. 31 and officials believe it has originated from the Chines city of Wuhan. The outbreak prompted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to raise its travel warning on Monday to a level 3, its highest alert level, urging citizens to avoid all nonessential travel to China.

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