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Alba Iulia
Thursday, April 2, 2020

Facebook evacuates London office as COVID-19 spreads across Europe

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Facebook evacuated its London office after a worker tested positive for coronavirus.

The social media giant told staff to work from home after the stricken employee visited the Singapore office last month.

Staff who may have had direct contact with the man are asked to isolate themselves, while the company also reaches out to employees based in other offices who have visited London in the past few days.

“An employee based in our Singapore office who was diagnosed with COVID-19 visited our London offices from February 24 to 26, 2020,” the company said in a statement on Friday.

“So we are closing our London offices until Monday for a thorough cleaning and the employees are working from home until then.”

Facebook employs more than 3,000 people in its London office in Fitzrovia.

It comes as the COVID-19 epidemic continues to wreak havoc across Europe.

In the Netherlands, an organizer of this year’s Eurovision song contest in Rotterdam said he was considering his options in light of the epidemic.

A spokesman for the Dutch broadcaster NPO said Friday that the organizers would follow the advice of health officials to decide what form the event would take, scheduled for May 12-16.

Eurovision generally attracts a live audience of tens of thousands and a TV audience of almost 200 million.

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READ MORE: Follow the latest coronavirus updates

More than 98,000 people have now been infected with the COVID-19 virus worldwide and more than 3,300 people have died.

About 5,500 cases have been detected in Europe, with the worst epidemics in Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The Netherlands has reported 82 cases and one death, but has yet to restrict large public gatherings as other countries have done.

Even the smallest country in the world, the Vatican, reported its first case on Friday.

One patient tested positive for the virus at the Vatican health clinic, said Holy See spokesperson Matteo Bruni.

The clinic inside the tiny city-state – which has some 450 residents – will be thoroughly cleaned, but emergencies will remain open, he added.

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The Vatican is entirely surrounded by Italy, which is fighting the deadliest epidemic outside of China.

The Vatican clinic is used by priests, residents and employees – including those who are now retired – and their loved ones.

Pope Francis recently suffered from a bad cold, but reportedly tested negative for coronavirus this week.

He has not been seen in public since last Sunday and now spends most of his time at home.

“The cold with which the Holy Father was diagnosed is running its course,” Bruni told reporters on Thursday.

STARBUCKS PROHIBITS REUSABLE CUPS

Elsewhere in the world, airlines are reducing their flights to countries with major epidemics, schools are closing, meetings are canceled and many companies are changing their operations.

In the United States and the United Kingdom, Starbucks cafes have also announced that they will no longer accept reusable cups for fear of hygiene.

“We are suspending the use of personal mugs and” for here “items in our stores,” said Executive Vice President Rossann Williams in a statement, adding that Starbucks would continue to honor discounts for customers who arrived with their own mug even if they haven’t filled it.

In 2018, 1.3% of customers in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Africa received drinks in mugs they brought, the company said in its annual report.

Starbucks told AFP that the decision to ban reusable cups was made for “health and well-being” reasons, and the company is “optimistic, it will be a temporary situation”.

The company said it had also “increased the cleaning and disinfection of all stores operated by the company to help prevent the spread of all germs.”

-With son

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