Indian tech companies have plunged into action, taking precautionary measures such as asking employees to work from home, sanitizing premises, and shifting to online events, amid increasing cases of the novel coronavirus in the country.
An employee at Gurugram-based payment services company Paytm tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, the company disclosed on Wednesday in a statement, adding that all its six offices across Noida and Gurugram would remain closed for disinfecting purposes.
“One of our colleagues based out of Gurgaon office who recently returned from Italy post a vacation has sadly been tested positive for Coronavirus. He is receiving appropriate treatment and we are extending complete support to his family,” the Paytm spokesperson said. “As a precautionary measure, we have suggested his team members to (sic) get health tests done immediately. We have also advised all our colleagues to work from home for a couple of days while we get our offices sanitized.”
While India’s most valuable startup also announced two-day leave for all its employees, it said that there “will not be any impact on our daily operations and Paytm services will continue as usual.”
The Paytm employee is the 29th coronavirus case in the world’s second-most populous country. Health officials in Delhi on Thursday said five people who came in contact with the payment firm’s executive have been tested and quarantined till their results come in.
As the coronavirus’ rapid spread spooks the masses, many tech companies are voluntarily canceling large-scale events to reduce the exposure risk.
For instance, Xiaomi has canceled the on-ground launch event for Redmi Note 9 and Redmi Note 9 Pro, which was scheduled at March 12 noon. Citing reports of mounting cases from different parts of the country and a potential outbreak, the company “decided to not host product launch events on-ground in March,” Manu Jain, managing director at Xiaomi India, said in a tweet on March 3.
Further, a statement from the company said, “While we’ve been planning this launch for months, we believe this step is crucial. We are taking this decision with the objective of reducing exposure risk to coronavirus COVID-19 for our Mi fans, media friends, partners, and Xiaomi employees.”
Instead, the company plans to launch its new smartphone models via an online-only event wherein it would live-stream the launch on its social media channels.
The Chinese smartphone maker, in the statement, added that it is looking to make “this online-only launch truly ‘note-worthy’.”
Xiaomi isn’t the only phone maker who had to cope with the fallout of the epidemic. Realme Mobiles CEO Madhav Sheth also announced on Twitter that his company is calling off a launch event for its latest Realme 6 Series and taking the event online instead.
Of the total 29 cases, the earliest three patients detected in the Southern Indian state of Kerala in early February have recovered. Globally, to date, the virus outbreak has infected more than 94,900 people and killed at least 3,283.
The number of coronavirus cases shot up this week in the South Asian nation, three weeks after the first case was reported.
Two techies tested positive for coronavirus in Hyderabad, one of which is working in a Bengaluru-based tech company and had traveled to Dubai for work where he came in contact with executives from Hong Kong. The second patient worked at global science-based company DSM Shared Services and had recently returned from a vacation from Italy.
In a statement, DSM confirmed that one of its employees in the Hyderabad office has been diagnosed with coronavirus on Wednesday and that its offices, which are being disinfected, would be closed till further notice.
After the news broke, it created panic among employees working in Raheja Mindspace tech park in the heart of Hyderabad’s IT corridor, where DSM is located. The other surrounding offices in the facility including American IT services provider Cognizant have temporarily closed their offices and asked their employees to work from home.
Indian information technology (IT) services giants including Tata Consultancy Services and HCL Technologies have reportedly instructed staff to avoid non-essential travel so as to safeguard them against the deadly coronavirus. Earlier this week, local media Economic Times reported that the IT industry body, National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), has asked the government to relax norms for a month to allow work-from-home for technology and back-office employees as a measure to deal with the spread of COVID-19 virus in the country.