Businesses allow staff to work remotely amid coronavirus advance

By Dat Nguyen, Nhat Minh   January 30, 2020 | 11:50 pm PT
Businesses allow staff to work remotely amid coronavirus advance
Staff at a restaurant in Hanoi's Nam Tu Liem District wear masks while serving customers. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Tu.
Some Vietnamese companies have let employees work from home to limit the spread of the new deadly coronavirus that has infected three locals.

Ho Chi Minh City-based technology company VNG Corporation has permitted employees recently returned from China or central cities of Da Nang and Nha Trang, both hosting a large number of Chinese tourists, to work from home for two weeks.

VNG stated its offices will limit welcoming foreigners in the coming days, advising employees to limit travel to avoid being infected by the pneumonia virus nCoV, which has infected five people in Vietnam, including three locals.

Employees with related symptoms should seek treatment, it stressed.

E-commerce company Sendo also required employees who’ve had contact with travelers from Wuhan City in China, the epidemic epicenter, to report to the human resources department and work from home for 14 days.

After the period, a health report from a doctor is required for employees to return to work, the company explained.

Construction firm Back Kim Toan Cau in HCMC has conducted temperature checks among employees and required all to wear masks at work. Those who are sick must stay at home and are encouraged to visit hospital.

Mask on

Other companies have demanded customer service employees to wear masks to combat the spread of nCoV.

On Thursday, the first working day after the seven-day national Tet holiday, staff at Pizza 4P’s and Starbucks wore masks while serving customers. The same rule was applied at hotels, banks, airports, and customer services.

"Today, we purchased around 200 boxes of face masks to give to airport staff. Many pharmacies are out of stock and prices are high," said Quang Thanh, employee at Cat Bi International Airport in northern city of Hai Phong. He added the company planned to buy around 400 to 500 more boxes in the coming days.

According to Thanh Nhu, an employee at a HCMC logistics company, everyone received a box of 50 masks. Delivery staff are equipped with additional gloves. "We should not take any health risks. Everyone should take necessary precautions to ensure good hygiene and safety," the company said.

Another HCMC-based multinational with a parent corporation in China recommended staff not travel to the country. In case of force majeure, employees must work at home the next 14 days after returning to Vietnam from China. "At the moment, we are communicating with our parent company virtually," a representative stated.

Foreign banks in Hong Kong and Singapore have adopted the same policy while an American technology corporation notified all its Asia-Pacific departments to take measures against the virus. A real estate multinational, with offices in HCMC as well as Wuhan, encouraged staff to refrain from despair.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam suspended all flights to and from coronavirus-hit areas in China starting Wednesday.

The Ministry of Health confirmed Thursday three Vietnamese have tested positive for the nCoV. One is being treated at Thanh Hoa General Hospital in central Thanh Hoa Province while the others are at National Hospital of Tropical Diseases in Hanoi.

As of Thursday afternoon there were five reported cases of infection. Two Chinese nationals were confirmed on January 23 as Vietnam's first cases of nCoV infection, though one has since recovered.

World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday declared a global health emergency as the death toll reached 213, all in China.

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