HSBC deep cleaning Canary Wharf office after coronavirus case

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
HSBC's London headquarters at Canary Wharf. (Alastair Grant/AP)

HSBC (HSBA.L) is deep cleaning part of its Canary Wharf headquarters after one of its staff tested positive for coronavirus.

HSBC said in a statement on Thursday it had sent home some staff after an employees was diagnosed with COVID-19.

“This colleague is under medical supervision and has self-isolated,” a spokesperson said, according to the BBC. “We are working closely with the health authorities.”

Yahoo Finance UK understands the employee who tested positive for COVID-19 was on HSBC’s global research team.

“We are deep-cleaning the floor where our colleague worked and shared areas of the building,” a HSBC spokesperson said. “Colleagues on that floor, and others who came into contact with him, have been advised to work at home. Based on medical and official advice the building remains open and operates as normal.”

An earlier report from Financial News suggested the bank’s trading floor had been closed down but Yahoo Finance UK understands this is not the case. HSBC has around 10,000 staff working out of its Canary Wharf headquarters.

“Our first priority and concern is the health of our employees and customers – and we are encouraging our colleagues to monitor their health carefully and stay at home or call a doctor if they feel unwell,” a spokesperson said.

HSBC is the latest London company to face disruption due to coronavirus. Last week US oil giant Chevronadvertising agency OMD, and law firm Baker McKenzie all sent home London staff as a precaution after employees reported flu-like symptoms.

Big banks have this week been reviewing emergency plans to ensure they can continue to operate smoothly in the event of a coronavirus outbreak.

Regulations require banks to have continuity plans in place to ensure they can keep operating smoothly in the event of disruption such as terrorist attacks or earthquakes. Bank of England governor Mark Carney told lawmakers earlier this week his organisation was in frequent contact with big banks to ensure plans were up to date.

Sources close to the preparation work at two major banks told Yahoo Finance UK this week that options include working from home, transferring staff to back-up offices, sending staff to offices in other cities, and splitting teams across multiple sites.

Staff at several major banks are being encouraged to check their connections to work systems from home, in the event that offices are shut down.

Open trading floors, which can house thousands of workers, are seen as potentially high-risk for the spread of coronavirus.

So far 85 cases have been confirmed in the UK.

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