Outbreak hits home for DBS parent

Local | Reuters and staff reporter 13 Feb 2020

Singapore's biggest bank DBS moved 300 staff from its head office yesterday as a precaution following a confirmed coronavirus case at the lender, says an internal memo.

Singapore has reported 47 coronavirus cases, one of the highest tallies outside China, including mounting evidence of local transmission.

"DBS confirms today that one employee has been infected with the novel coronavirus," the bank said. An employee was tested on February 11 and the bank was informed of the confirmation yesterday.

The bank asked all employees on the affected floor to vacate the premises and work from home. It did not say how many staff were affected.

"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 the DBS headquarters at the Marina Bay Financial Centre.

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

Employees said other floors were not affected.

Meanwhile, another 39 people have tested positive for the coronavirus on the cruise ship Diamond Princess quarantined in Japan, with one quarantine officer also infected, bringing the total to 175, the health ministry said yesterday.

The Diamond Princess was placed in quarantine for two weeks on arrival in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, on February 3 after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was diagnosed with the virus.

About 3,700 people are on board the ship, which usually has a crew of 1,100 and a passenger capacity of 2,670.

Kyodo news agency, citing the ministry, said that of the 39 cases, 10 were crew members and 29 were passengers.

Ten were Japanese nationals and the others were from 11 countries, including the United States and China. Four were in serious condition, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said.

The quarantine officer who was infected had been handing out health questionnaires to passengers and crew since February 3, and had been following rules that require the wearing of masks and gloves but not a full protective suit, said the Nikkei business daily, quoting the ministry.

Hong Kong information services veteran Young Wo-sang, who is on board, expected passengers to be allowed to disembark next Wednesday if the situation does not change.

Young has stayed inside his cabin since the quarantine. He said crew members handed them food as usual, and did not act particularly nervously.

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