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Sinopec Sends London Staff On Home Office On Coronavirus Scare

Unipec, the oil trading unit of Asia’s largest refiner China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation, or Sinopec, has sent its London staff to work from home after an employee showed coronavirus-like symptoms, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.   

Unipec’s staff working in London were “asked to stay home until more is known as a precaution,” the source told Reuters.  

The London office of Unipec has around 70 employees, including 11 traders, according to Bloomberg, which quotes a Companies House filing.

This is the second such ‘work from home’ request from an oil firm in two weeks, after U.S. supermajor Chevron told last week its 300 employees in London’s Canary Wharf business district to work from home after an employee reported flu symptoms after returning from a trip.

Chevron had sent staff to work from home as a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of potential exposure to the coronavirus, the U.S. supermajor said early last week.

Later in the week, Chevron said on Saturday that the employee had tested negative for coronavirus. The U.S. oil giant is working on a plan to have the staff return to work from office, it said two days ago.  

As of Sunday morning, a total of 11,750 people have been tested in the UK, of which 11,715 were confirmed negative and 35 positive for coronavirus, the UK government said.

The authorities in the UK advise returning travelers to self-isolate and avoid contact with other people if they had recently traveled to China and other countries in Asia to northern Italy or to Iran.

Scotland reported its first case of coronavirus on Monday, while Public Health England (PHE) said that widespread transmission of the infection in the UK was “highly likely.”

As of Monday, more than 60 countries had reported coronavirus cases and the markets, including the oil market, fear a significant slowdown in economic activity and global oil demand growth.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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