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Schwab tells employees to self-quarantine after visiting China, South Korea

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Brokerage giant Charles Schwab Corp (SCHW.N) has asked employees who recently traveled to China or South Korea to remain at home for the next two weeks.

The request came via email on Friday morning to the firm’s 20,000 global employees, a spokesman at the firm said.

“Our primary concern is the health and safety of our employees and we are providing tips and resources to help them reduce any risk of exposure,” the company said in a statement to Reuters.

Both countries are currently on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning level 3, at which point the government agency suggests avoiding all non-essential travel. Schwab’s self-quarantine policies will expand to include any other countries that are added to the warning level 3 category, the firm said.

Iran, Italy, and Japan are currently on the CDC’s alert level 2, which suggests that older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing non-essential travel. Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and Taiwan are also on the CDC’s watch list for possible spread of coronavirus, now known as COVID-19.

Schwab, which manages total client assets of $3.7 trillion, services its Chinese clients through its Hong Kong office and its European clients out of an office in London. The coronavirus was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Dec. 31 of last year.

Fears of the rapidly spreading virus have rattled global financial markets this week after new cases were found in Italy, Nigeria and South Korea. Energy, airlines and hotel stocks have led U.S. equities lower in anticipation that the outbreak will lead to severe cutbacks in business and vacation travel.

Reporting by David Randall; Editing by Dan Grebler

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