HSBC, UniCredit send staff home after coronavirus infections
By Carolyn Cohn and Gianluca Semeraro
LONDON/MILAN , March 5 (Reuters) - HSBC has sent some staff in London home after a worker tested positive for coronavirus, the first known case in Europe's main financial hub, while Italy's UniCredit was forced to do the same after two fresh infections.
An employee in HSBC's HSBA.L research department in London told the bank at the weekend that he had tested positive for coronavirus, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
One of the people said HSBC had told its staff who came into contact with him to work from home, as the areas affected, including the research department, undergo a thorough clean.
HSBC's London office is in the centre of Canary Wharf, a major financial centre that hosts many investment banks, including Citi C.N, JPMorgan JPM.N, Morgan Stanley and Barclays BARC.L.
Italy's UniCredit CRDI.MIupped its tally of workers infected with coronavirus to three on Thursday, including one in Germany, as it sent staff who dealt with them home.
In one of the incidents, the bank's German arm said a contractor working in its Munich office had tested positive for coronavirus and that it had told all employees who had been in contact with the person to self-quarantine for two weeks.
The lender said that another employee based in the northern city of Piacenza had also come down with the disease, making it the third case at Italy's biggest bank since the outbreak of the illness.
Italy has been the hardest-hit country in Europe, with the total number of deaths rising to 107 and more than 3,000 confirmed cases
The contagion is focused in a handful of hotspots in the north of Italy, even if cases have now been confirmed in all but one of the country's 20 regions.
Both the Piacenza office, where the employee usually worked, and a branch in the city, where he had recently been, have been closed, the bank said in a statement
UniCredit contacted all employees who may have been in close contact with the virus-positive colleague and advised them to self-isolate themselves for 14 days. It said it would also contact all customers who had been in the branch in recent days.
UniCredit said in the statement it had implemented some measures to help contain the spread of coronavirus, including home working and the ban of non-essential domestic and international travel.
The bank's employees who have been in areas affected by the virus in the last two weeks were encouraged to work remotely as much as possible or otherwise opt for paid leave as they would not have access to their office, UniCredit said.
(Additional reporting by Julien Ponthus in London; writing by John O'Donnell Editing by Rachel Armstrong)
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