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Facebook, other companies restricting travel to China

Facebook, other companies restricting travel to China
© Getty Images

Facebook has become the first significant U.S.-based company to announce travel suspension to China in response to a new, deadly coronavirus, with other companies following suit.

The social media giant told employees on Tuesday to halt nonessential travel to mainland China, and said any employees who had traveled there are to work from home, according to Reuters.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its Biosafety level for China to a three — which encourages the avoidance of all nonessential travel to the country — while raising the entire Hubei region to a four, stating there is "limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens," according to U.S. officials.

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On Monday, the U.S. warned Americans to "reconsider" visiting China amid news of the coronavirus death toll ascending to 106. Airlines are also beginning to adjust schedules to avoid traveling to hot zones such as Hubei province and mainland China.

Other global companies restricting travel to China include LG Electronics and United Kingdom-based Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), with the latter banning all staff travel to Chinese-ruled Hong Kong for two weeks and to mainland China until further notice, according to a memo received by Reuters.

"We are asking those who have traveled to mainland China or been in contact with anyone who has traveled to or through Hubei province in the last 14 days to stay home for a period of 14 calendar days," a spokeswoman for HSBC told the news outlet.

Wuhan, along with many other cities in the Hubei province, is on lockdown, halting air and rail transportation in and out.

International SOS, a medical and travel security services firm advising companies, said business travel to China outside Hubei could proceed, but that could change if there are more significant flight cancellations and disruptions to transportation, Regional Security Director James Robertson said.

"Many of our clients have chosen to defer or cancel upcoming travel based on their own individual assessments. If people do choose to travel, they need flexible itineraries accounting for extra time for temperature and health screenings," Robertson told Reuters.