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1,000 Dublin staff told to work at home over killer virus fears

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A man in a Hazmat suit at the Indeed offices in Dublin

A man in a Hazmat suit at the Indeed offices in Dublin

A man in a Hazmat suit at the Indeed offices in Dublin

Around 1,000 staff in the Dublin office of a recruitment firm will have to work from home until next Monday amid fears about exposure to the coronavirus.

The decision was made by Indeed, a multinational, due to concerns over a staff member in Singapore who may have been put at risk of the virus, which has killed more than 900 people.

Members of the employee's family in Singapore are currently being tested for coronavirus after being admitted to hospital with pneumonia.

The worry is that several staff members who had visited the Singapore centre had recently visited the Dublin and Sydney offices.

Precaution

Although none of the employees at Indeed have tested positive, staff were yesterday told to work from home as a precaution against possible infection.

The offices in Dublin were being deep-cleaned yesterday by a cleaner in a hazmat suit and goggles as protection against potential contamination .

Indeed said one of its employees in Singapore might have been exposed to coronavirus after their family members visited a facility caring for a patient with the infection.

"While there are no confirmed cases, out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our employees, we have asked all employees in Singapore, along with anyone who has recently visited our Singapore offices, to work from home until February 17," it said.

"Business continues uninterrupted across the globe. Indeed has been in touch with the HSE and confirmed that all of our actions are in line with their recommendations."

The normal self-isolation period for someone who is not infected but may have been exposed is 14 days.

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The Dublin office was cleaned due to coronavirus fears. Photo: Mark Condren

The Dublin office was cleaned due to coronavirus fears. Photo: Mark Condren

Indeed employs about 9,000 people globally, including 1,000 based in Dublin.

In response to Indeed's decision, the Department of Health here said it would not be providing information about "individual activations of preparedness".

Asked if it intended to follow the UK and make quarantine mandatory in specific cases, an official said it was "not currently planning additional measures related to quarantine or enforced isolation".

There have been no cases in Ireland so far and more than 30 patients who were tested proved negative. Australia declared its first confirmed case last month.

Last week the spotlight fell on Singapore after a British businessman, not linked to Indeed, tested positive for the new virus which he picked up attending a conference in Singapore from January 20 to 22.

He has since been described as a "superspreader" because he has since passed it on to 11 people in three countries.

The man's travels multiplied the number of people he had potentially infected.

Meanwhile, the death toll in China has reached 908 - but the number of newly infected people per day has stabilised.

Caught

Across China, 40,171 people are infected, while 187,518 are under medical observation.

Some 60 more people have tested positive on the cruise ship Diamond Princess quarantined in Japan where two Irish people are passengers.

It means 130 out of 3,700 passengers and staff have caught the virus.

Princess Cruises told the Herald an additional 66 cases of coronavirus were diagnosed from Australia (four), Canada (one), England (one), Japan (45), the Philippines (three), Ukraine (one) and the US (11).

Since it is early in the quarantine periods, it was not unexpected that more cases would arise among those exposed before the start of the quarantine, he added.