Covid-19: Twitter asks all employees to work from home; WHO says world in 'uncharted territory'

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the world is in "uncharted territory" on the coronavirus outbreak.

As many as 9,000 employees working at Twitter and Square, companies controlled by Jack Dorsey, have been asked to work from home amid increasing worries that the coronavirus pandemic is spreading briskly across the world. The two companies said on Monday they were strongly encouraging employees to stay at home. Twitter and Square also said all non-critical business travel and events stay suspended.

"Our goal is to lower the probability of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus for us - and the world around us ... We are operating out of an abundance of caution and the utmost dedication to keeping our Tweeps healthy," head of Twitter's human resources, Jennifer Christie, said in a blog post.

The shadows of people holding mobile phones are cast onto a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture taken in Warsaw September 27, 2013 Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Deep cleansing and sanitizing

Twitter employees in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea are already operating from home as per government restrictions. People in other offices worldwide have been urged to work from home, while the company said deep cleansing and sanitizing of office spaces is getting increased attention. "Twitter is a global company & the safety of our people and those around us is our top priority. We've been closely monitoring #coronavirus COVID-19 developments, & wanted to share our current plans & travel policies. There will be more updates to this policy in the coming days," Jennifer Christie added.

The United States reported four deaths due to the deadly novel coronavirus outbreak on Monday. All four fatalities were reported in Washington state. With this, the number of fatalities due to the coronavirus outbreak rose to six in the US. Globally, the number of Covid-19 victims has gone past 3,000.

Iran and Italy in focus

In Iran, a close aide of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei died of coronavirus infection on Monday. Seyed Mohammad Mir-Mohammadi, aged 71, was also a member of Iran's Expediency Discernment Council. Several high-ranking officials, including a vice minister, deputy health minister and five lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19 in Iran, where 66 people have died so far.

Italy too has recorded more than 50 deaths from coronavirus and close to 2,000 people have been infected.

Microsoft, Google and Facebook on alert

Apart from Twitter, global companies have all been fighting the spread of coronavirus by cancelling events and cutting down on travel. Last week, Facebook canceled its most storied F8 developer conference amid fears of rising threat from coronavirus. Microsoft also said it was dropping its MVP Summit, which was scheduled for later this month in Seattle. Google said on Monday that it would hold its Cloud Next conference as a streamed event.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the world is in "uncharted territory" on the coronavirus outbreak. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the "unique" virus, however, can be contained with the help of proper measures. "Each country must have its own approach but it must start with containment," Ghebreyesus said.

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