Italian offshore oil rig operator Saipem has asked employees in regions affected by coronavirus to “stay at their home, avoiding social interactions.”
Italy has about 230 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Monday, with seven deaths so far. A cluster of 10 towns outside of Milan are at the epicenter, and about 50,000 residents have been quarantined in place. Saipem’s headquarters complex is located in San Donato Milanese, about 20 miles to the northwest of the outbreak area.
Saipem said that it had its Milan-area offices thoroughly sanitized over the weekend, and all of its workplaces will receive the same treatment daily going forward. The company is looking at ways that it can reduce more employees’ physical presence in the office while maintaining business continuity.
Employee travel to and from coronavirus risk areas will be canceled or reduced to a minimum, Saipem said. It is possible that Italian travelers will face increased restrictions going forward, given the size of the outbreak in Italy.
Significant outbreaks have been reported in Italy, Iran and South Korea over the course of the past week, bringing disruption to travel plans and commerce. A rising number of untraceable cases – where there is no known chain of contact – raises the possibility that infected individuals without symptoms are spreading the disease undetected.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that while it has not yet classified the COVID-19 coronavirus as a pandemic, the world must be ready in the event that it should spread further. “Although the window of opportunity is narrowing to contain the outbreak, we still have a chance to contain it,” said Tedros Ghebreyesus, the head of WHO, speaking to the AP. “But while doing that, we have to prepare at the same time for any eventualities, because this outbreak could go any direction.”