LONDON / MILAN / HONG KONG:
HSBC Holdings PLC has sent more than 100 employees to London after an employee tested positive for the corona virus, the first known case at a large company in Europe's main financial center.
The bank also has an employee in China with the virus who is in a stable condition, interim CEO Noel Quinn said in a Reuters internal memo.
Banks around the world are preparing offices outside the city and isolating some teams to ensure that trading continues as the virus spreads to more financial centers.
Italy's UniCredit also sent some employees home after two new infections, one each in Germany and Italy.
JPMorgan relocated dealers in New York and London to a number of locations, a memo said Thursday.
The US bank operates a UK disaster recovery site in Basingstoke, southwest of London, with an alternative building near the Blackfriars Bridge in the central part of the capital.
"The bank has officially moved from testing to execution," said a source familiar with the matter, adding that the largest wave of movements would take place on March 9.
Goldman Sachs has tested a backup location in Croydon, south London, while Barclays has an office in Northolt, northwest of the city, which will be used as a backup.
The possibility of the virus spreading in the financial sector is worrying regulators, who fear that the lack of key personnel could lead to liquidity problems in the markets if companies are unable to conduct their trading normally.
The European Central Bank has asked euro area banks to urgently test their large-scale teleworking or other flexible arrangements for critical personnel, a letter from Reuters on Tuesday showed.
The German and UK financial regulators have also said they are monitoring how well prepared banks and other institutions are.
In Spain, the BBVA announced on Thursday that it had moved up to 100 employees from its Madrid trading post to a location outside the city to prevent a possible outbreak disruption.
An employee of the HSBC research department in London isolated himself on Sunday, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
After the infection was confirmed, the bank sent more than 100 department employees home on Thursday, a spokeswoman said. HSBC advised employees who came into contact with the man to work from home while cleaning the affected areas.
"We were informed that one of our employees at 8 Canada Square was diagnosed with COVID-19. This colleague is under medical supervision and is self-isolated," said the spokeswoman.
"All employees whose roles enable remote working have been told that they can work from home if necessary."
HSBC's London office is located in Canary Wharf, an important financial district where many investment banks such as Citi, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Barclays are located.
The HSBC headquarters are still open.
As a precaution, the lender sent 20 employees from its global banking and market department home on Wednesday because one person came into contact with an infected person, said the HSBC spokeswoman.
The 20 have returned to work since then, she said.
The bank's coronavirus cases in China and London have nothing to do with each other, Quinn said in the memo.
A spokeswoman in Hong Kong said on Friday that the bank's China employee had previously been in self-quarantine and had had no interaction with other employees since late January.
Commodity price agency S & P Global Platts asked about 1,200 employees in their Canary Wharf office to work from home after a visitor diagnosed the virus.
On Thursday, Italy's UniCredit increased the number of infected workers to three and sent home workers who dealt with them.
Unicredit stated that it recommended that all employees who were in contact with a contractor in its Munich office and tested positive should have a two-week self-quarantine.
The bank has closed its office in Piacenza, where another employee has tested positive, and a branch in the northern Italian city, Unicredit said in a statement.
It called for 14 days of self-isolation for employees who may have been in close contact with the employee, and said it would contact customers who recently visited the Piacenza office.
Italy is the most affected nation in Europe with 107 deaths and more than 3,000 infections.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)