HSBC has closed its main office in Hong Kong after an outbreak of COVID-19 at a gym

A worker wearing PPE guards the entrance of HSBC bank main Hong Kong office after it was closed until further notice after three people tested positive for Covid-19 amid a recent wave of infections among the citys business and expatriate community in Hong Kong on March 17, 2021.
A worker wearing PPE guards the entrance of HSBC bank main Hong Kong office after it was closed until further notice after three people tested positive for Covid-19 amid a recent wave of infections among the city’s business and expatriate community in Hong Kong on March 17, 2021.

  • HSBC has temporarily shut its main Hong Kong office after three workers tested positive for COVID-19.
  • There has been a wave of infections in the city following an outbreak at a local gym.
  • In an internal memo seen by Bloomberg, HSBC said the bank can reopen when staff have been tested.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

HSBC closed its main office in Hong Kong until further notice on Tuesday after three people working there tested positive for COVID-19.

The region’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP) published a formal notice asking people who spent more than two hours in the building between March 3 and 16 to be tested at a government-approved center by March 19, according to an internal memo HSBC sent to staff on Wednesday seen by Bloomberg.

The new infections followed a COVID-19 outbreak last Thursday at a gym in Sai Ying Pun, which has spread to the region’s financial district.

The CHP said Tuesday it was investigating 18 additional confirmed infections of the virus, taking the total number of cases in Hong Kong to date to 11,340.

The CHP also extended the current social distancing measures until March 31.

“It is our understanding that HMB can return to normal business when virus testing of colleagues and deep cleaning of the facility are complete,” HSBC said in the memo. “The exact timing is yet to be confirmed.”

Around 30,000 HSBC employees now have no access to the lender’s flagship office, located at 1 Queen’s Road Central, in the center of Hong Kong’s business district.

Guards wearing masks, face shields and protective clothing were standing in front of the building’s entrances and a poster stuck on the door told customers to visit another HSBC branch in the local area, Bloomberg reported.

Insider approached HSBC for comment but did not immediately receive a reply.

A spokeswoman from the bank told Bloomberg that HSBC was following advice from health authorities and taking the necessary steps so the building can reopen when it’s safe.

“For banking services, we have well-developed contingency measures that ensure our services and critical processes continue to be maintained,” she said.

Hong Kong, with a population of 7.5 million, has kept coronavirus cases low thanks to strict contact tracing, testing and quarantine measures. There have been 203 deaths in the city, according to the CHP data.

With a total of 292 cases between March 2 to March 15, the latest outbreak is the second largest since a surge in November.

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Biden to spend another $1.6 billion to expand COVID-19 testing in schools and underserved areas

Walmart covid testing
  • President Joe Biden has announced a $1.6 billion investment in expanded COVID-19 testing.
  • Funds will go to testing K-8 schools and underserved communities, and increased genome sequencing.
  • Biden also called on Congress to pass his stimulus plan, which includes $50 billion for testing.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that he will invest $1.6 billion to expand the availability of testing in K-8 schools and underserved areas, intended to serve as a “bridge” until Congress approves more funding.

During his first presidential town hall in Milwaukee on Tuesday, Biden said that by the end of July, the country will have 600 million vaccine doses available, enough for every American. But in the meantime, safety measures are still needed, and this new funding will be used to expand COVID-19 testing for K-8 schools and underserved populations, along with increased manufacturing for testing supplies and virus genome sequencing.

The Dept. of Health and Human Services and the Dept. of Defense will allocate $650 million to expand testing in K-8 schools and “underserved congregate setting” like homeless shelters, according to the White House, along with an $815 million investment to increase domestic manufacturing of testing supplies, such as filter pipette tips.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will invest nearly $200 million to identify and track emerging COVID-19 strains through genome sequencing, which will allow for a better understanding of how the virus spreads.

“As the Administration is working around the clock to vaccinate the population, we need to continue to do what we know works to protect public health: universal masking, physical distancing, and robust testing,” the White House said in a statement. “These down payments will serve as a bridge to comprehensive testing investments in the American Rescue Plan.”

While the $1.6 billion will significantly improve testing availability, the Biden administration said Congress still needs to pass the president’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which includes $50 billion to be used specifically for testing purposes.

“These investments are only the beginning of what is needed to expand testing nationwide and get the pandemic under control,” the White House statement said. “The American Rescue Plan will invest $50 billion to expand and support testing, including in priority settings like schools and shelters, and invest in US testing capacity so that public health officials can track the virus in real time and Americans can efficiently get results.”

According to the CDC, the US is averaging 1.7 million vaccinations per day, but the need for further testing remains a priority for Biden.

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