Singapore’s DBS evacuates 300 staff after employee contracts coronavirus

FAN Editor
FILE PHOTO: A DBS logo in pictured in the backdrop of the central business district in Singapore
FILE PHOTO: A DBS logo in pictured in the backdrop of the central business district in Singapore July 10, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

February 12, 2020

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s biggest bank DBS <DBSM.SI> evacuated 300 staff from its head office on Wednesday as a precautionary measure following a confirmed coronavirus case at the lender, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.

Singapore has reported 47 coronavirus cases, one of the highest tallies outside China, including mounting evidence of local transmission. The government has been trying to calm nerves after it raised the virus alert level last week, sparking panic buying of essentials such as rice and toilet paper.

“DBS confirms today that one employee has been infected with the novel coronavirus,” the bank said in a statement. It said an employee was tested on Feb. 11 and the bank was informed of the confirmation on Wednesday morning.

As of noon, the bank asked all employees on the affected floor to vacate the premises and work from home, it added. The statement did not say how many staff were impacted.

“As a precautionary measure, all 300 colleagues on Level 43 at MBFC have been evacuated and will work from home for the time being,” Singapore country head, Shee Tse Koon said in the memo, referring to DBS’ headquarters at the Marina Bay Financial Centre.

The bank said it was conducting detailed contact tracing related to the infected employee.

Employees at the bank told Reuters that other floors were unaffected.

Long lines had formed this week to enter some offices in Singapore’s financial district as employers started screening workers for temperature. Warnings by building management of cases in some downtown office buildings have also been widely shared on social media.

Some companies, including DBS, are cancelling physical results briefings and choosing to hold them via teleconference. The government has cautioned people against shaking hands as a form of greeting.

The outbreak has revived memories of the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome which killed over 30 people in Singapore, and nearly 800 worldwide.

DBS said it has activated business continuity plans, with employees working from home or from split sites. It said staff will also receive a care pack which includes masks, a thermometer, hand sanitizer and vitamin C.

DBS shares were up 1.2% in afternoon trade on Wednesday, while the broader market <.STI> was up 1.3%.

(Reporting by Singapore newsroom; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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