Amazon.com Inc, Facebook Inc, and Microsoft have recommended to their employees to work from home after several people in the region, especially Seattle, were the coronavirus infections have been detected.
Seattle in Washington State has been most affected by the virus in the United States. 10 people have died out of 39 cases of infections through community transmission of the virus.
Amazon, which is headquartered in Seattle, recommended employees in the area to work from home through the end of the month, after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday.
The employee worked at Amazon’s South Lake Union office complex in Seattle. Two other company employees in Milan, Italy, were also infected.
Facebook said on Thursday a contractor at its Seattle office was diagnosed with the coronavirus and that it would shut the location until March 9.
“A contractor based in our Stadium East office has been diagnosed with the COVID-19,” a company spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.
The companies’ work from home recommendation will affect more than 100,000 people in the Seattle area, as both Microsoft and Amazon employ over 50,000 each. Facebook has more than 5,000 employees in the area.
Seattle health authorities have urged here companies to allow their employees to work from home as much as possible, stagger shifts to ease commuter congestion on public transportation and avoid large work-related gatherings.
According to the firm, “Only Facebook’s Seattle Office is closed. The rest of its offices in the US remain open, with people given the option to work from home.”
The epidemic has shown no signs of slowing, with deaths mounting globally. It has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide, mostly in China, where it originated in December.
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Big tech companies have also been dropping out of several conferences and calling off corporate events as the virus spreads. Apple and Netflix on Wednesday dropped out of SXSW conference to be held later this month, citing virus concerns.
Microsoft said on Wednesday that some “essential” employees should continue to go to their work locations and that the company would follow government guidelines for disinfecting its sites for essential personnel.
In a blog post, Microsoft’s Executive Vice-President, Kurt DelBene, told employees: “Consistent with King County guidance, we are recommending all employees who are in a job that can be done from home should do so through 25 March.
“Taking these measures will ensure your safety and also make the workplace safer for those that need to be onsite. Please let your manager know that you will be working from home, so all our teams remain well coordinated.
“If in your role it is essential to be in the office or other work environments (eg, data centre, retail, etc), plan to continue to go to your location. We will continue to implement the CDC [Centres for Disease Control] guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing the locations. If you are not sure whether you are in a role that requires you to be onsite, you should speak to your manager,” says DelBene.
Meanwhile, mobile game downloads jump as coronavirus keeps people indoors. Millions of Chinese stuck indoors due to fears of the coronavirus epidemic are turning to mobile games to keep themselves occupied.
Global mobile game downloads shot up 39 per cent in February, with China accounting for a major portion of the boost, data from app analytics firm Sensor Tower showed.
Apple’s App Store in China saw a 62 per cent jump in game downloads alone. Puzzle games like “Brain Out” and Tencent’s online battle game, “Honor of Kings”, were among the most downloaded in China, according to data from mobile app analytics firm App Annie.
The coronavirus, which emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, has spread around the world, killing more than 3,000 people globally, with the vast majority in China.
“Gaming has been one of the main beneficiaries in terms of increased time spent due to quarantine,” Stephens analyst Jeff Cohen wrote in a note to clients on Monday. He expects game publisher Activision Blizzard to benefit from the trend.
In the first three weeks of February, the average weekly game downloads in China had jumped 80 per cent, compared with the average weekly download for the whole of 2019, App Annie said.
Overall, mobile game downloads touched about 4 billion globally, up from 2.9 billion a year earlier. Asia witnessed a 46 per cent jump to 1.6 billion in February, according to Sensor Tower data.