Friday 6 March 2020 7:31 am

Firms send staff home as coronavirus arrives in Canary Wharf

Contagion fears gripped Canary Wharf last night after a host of multinational firms pressed the button on coronavirus contingency plans in what could be just a taste of things to come.

On a rollercoaster day in one of the globe’s most important financial hubs HSBC took the decision to evacuate more than a hundred staff from a floor of its headquarters after one of its research analysts contracted the virus.

Read more: HSBC evacuates over 100 from Canary Wharf HQ after employee contracts coronavirus

Meanwhile American outfit S&P Global sent home more than a thousand staff after a visitor, thought to be the HSBC research analyst, was revealed to have had the disease.

US banking giant JP Morgan activated plans to split up its staff, with a number heading to backup sites outside the capital. In a memo sent to employees, the company said it has “started to test and implement alternative working arrangements for employees in New York and London”.

Read more: City of London braces for coronavirus: Banks, insurers and audit firms activate contingency plans

“Dividing our workforce into different locations improves our ability to serve client continuously while reducing the health risks associated with physical contact should a case arise,” the memo added.

Goldman Sachs and Barclays are also testing back-up sites in Croydon and Northolt respectively.

According to the Canary Wharf Group, the site now plays home to more than 120,000 employees on a daily basis.

Yesterday City A.M. reported on the scale of the preparations being taken by law firms, audit giants and banks across the capital.

The number of confirmed cases in the UK hit 116 yesterday, with 25 in London.