World News

HSBC extends travel ban to Hong Kong to March 2: staff memo

(Reuters) – Europe’s biggest bank HSBC <HSBA.L> has extended its ban on staff travelling to Hong Kong until March 2, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters, as the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak continues to climb.

The Asia-focused, British-based lender had originally banned all staff travel to Chinese-ruled Hong Kong for two weeks in late January and to mainland China until further notice.

A spokeswoman for HSBC confirmed the contents of the memo, which was sent to staff on Wednesday.

The bank, which has the largest presence among foreign banks in China, has also asked staff who have recently visited the country to undergo a self-imposed 14-day quarantine.

The new coronavirus has so far claimed the lives of 490 people in China, most in and around the city of Wuhan, where the flu-like virus emerged late last year. One person has died in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines, both following visits to Wuhan.

(Reporting by Sinead Cruise and Karin Strohecker in London; Editing by Mark Potter)