HomeLifestyleHSBC worker ‘catches coronavirus’ forcing ‘evacuation’ of floor at London HQ
HSBC worker ‘catches coronavirus’ forcing ‘evacuation’ of floor at London HQ
HSBC has evacuated part of its UK headquarters after a worker was diagnosed with coronavirus, it is reported.
The banking giant is said to have cleared its research department at its 45-storey skyscraper in Canary Wharf in east London.
It came after a research analyst contracted the flu-like illness, Financial News reported.
Mirror Online has contacted HSBC for comment.
Ninety people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK as of Thursday morning after three more cases were detected in Scotland overnight, but the number is expected to rise again within hours.
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Earlier this week, Deloitte confirmed that an employee based at its London headquarters had tested positive after returning from Asia.
The three new cases in Scotland were from the Forth Valley, Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Grampian areas.
They were announced shortly before Professor Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, told MPs that the UK has mainly moved into the "delay phase" of tackling coronavirus.
Professor Whitty, who was quizzed by MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee, said there was now evidence of community transmission between people who had no connections to overseas cases or returning travellers.
He also warned that access to critical care beds could be under the most pressure in the NHS as the virus escalates.
He said: "We have moved from a situation where we are mainly in contain, with some delay built in, to we are now mainly delay," he said, although elements of the contain process were remaining in place.
The delay phase 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."
Prof Whitty told MPs it is now "highly likely" there is "community transmission" of coronavirus in the UK.
"I think we should work on the assumption it is here, on very low levels, at this point in time – but that I think should be the working assumption on which we go forward from this point onwards," he said.
Prof Whitty also said it would be "lucky" to get a vaccine for Covid-19 in the next year, though existing drugs could play a role.
He said he had a "reasonably high degree of confidence" that one per cent is at the "upper limit" of the mortality rate for coronavirus, although Wuhan in China, which has a weaker health system, had seen an eight to nine per cent mortality rate for those aged 80 and over.
Prof Whitty warned that access to critical care beds could be put under the most pressure in the NHS.
He said: "The bit of the system which will come under pressure first will be those conditions that require people to have oxygen and particularly to have critical care beds, and that bit, I think, will come under pressure at quite an early stage if we have a high-end-of-the-range epidemic for this."
The impact on the health service would be most sharply felt over a period of around three weeks to nine weeks at the height of the epidemic.
Prof Whitty said: "For those people who get the disease severe enough to need hospital but not severe enough, fortunately, to kill them, they will still need NHS and health care.
"One of the things which is clear, if you model out the epidemic, is you will get 50 per cent of all the cases over a three-week period and 95 per cent of the cases over a nine-week period, if it follows the trajectory we think it's likely to.
"If all of those were spaced out on the NHS over two or three years, that would be easily manageable, but it's the fact they are so heavily concentrated."
Asked by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt why the Department of Health was no longer providing daily regional information on the location of new cases, Prof Whitty said: "We had a bit of a communications fumble on this."
He said the plan was, in the medium term, for the Department of Health to provide "a lot more information with maps and other things" and a "dashboard" of cases.
But he said some people in the UK with coronavirus had suffered vilification, adding: "I am not in favour of going down to street level or 'you're within 100 metres of a coronavirus (case)' because I think that is the wrong approach in this country."
Asked about transmission, Prof Whitty said there is "some risk of transmission" from touching handrails and hard surfaces for up to 72 hours.
But he said: "Just touching it will not give you the virus: it is if you touch it and then touch your face, having not washed your hands between them.
"So, if you go on to the Tube and touch the rail, that's fine, but just be aware of what you do with your hands – don't touch your face, wash your hands, and then you can do what you like."
Prof Whitty suggested that mass school closures may only have a limited impact on the spread of the virus, but it would be for ministers to make the "quite difficult judgment" on whether to order headteachers to shut down.