HSBC evacuated part of its UK headquarters after a worker tested positive for coronavirus, it has been reported. The bank cleared out the entire research department as well as a section of the trading floor at its 45-floor skyscraper in Canary Wharf, according to Financial News. It came after an employee in the research department informed the bank over the weekend that they had been diagnosed with the virus, sources told Reuters. Staff who came into contact with them were sent home and the area is being deep cleaned, they added.
HSBC employs roughly 40,000 people in the UK, with around a quarter of those based at the office block in the docklands. It comes a day after workers at accounting giant Deloitte were sent home from its London offices after a colleague tested positive for coronavirus following a trip to Asia. As of Thursday morning 90 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the UK after Scotland reported three more cases overnight, but the number is expected to increase again within hours. England’s chief medical officer earlier announced that the UK has now mainly moved into the ‘delay’ phase of tackling coronavirus. Professor Chris Whitty, who is being grilled by MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee, said community transmission between people who had no connections to overseas cases or returning travellers is now ‘highly likely’.
He added: ‘We have moved from a situation where we are mainly in contain, with some delay built in, to we are now mainly delay.’ It means measures to tackle coronavirus are ramped up to delay its spread. The Government’s battle plan says of the delay phase: ‘Action that would be considered could include population distancing strategies (such as school closures, encouraging greater home working, reducing the number of large-scale gatherings) to slow the spread of the disease throughout the population, while ensuring the country’s ability to continue to run as normally as possible.’