[China] Facebook First Among Big Companies Halting Travel To China

As the number of deaths from the coronavirus continues to climb, Facebook has become the first big US firm to halts its staff travelling to China, BBC News reports.

Facebook said it was acting "out of an abundance of caution" in order to protect its employees. More than 100 people have died from the virus and the total of confirmed cases has risen above 4,500. Other global companies are imposing travel restrictions while carmakers are taking staff out of the country.

As it works to contain the spread of the virus, China has imposed more restrictions on travel in and out of Hubei province, where the virus originated. Transport links in and out of the capital Wuhan are reportedly in, effective, lockdown.

Some domestic firms have extended the Chinese New Year holiday and others are asking employees to work from home.

Facebook has asked employees to stop all non-essential travel to mainland China and instructed employees there to work from home. The social media company has a division in China selling products like Oculus virtual reality headsets.

A Facebook spokesperson said, "We have taken steps to protect the health and safety of our employees."

The US government is asking Americans to "reconsider" planned visits to China and advising against travel to Hubei province. Additionally, Washington has said it plans to fly consulate staff and US citizens out of Wuhan. Governments of several countries are looking at ways to help their nationals leave the city.

South Korean companies are also putting plans in place to protect employees from potential infection. LG - the home appliances company - has completely banned travel to China and advised employees on business trips in the country at present to go home as soon as possible. Chipmaker SK Hynix has urged its staff to avoid all non-essential travel to the country.