Biogen Issues Work-from-Home Order Following More Positive COVID-19 Tests
Biogen has instructed its staff to work from home following additional employees testing positive for the coronavirus. According to reports, 15 employees who attended a management meeting in Boston have now tested positive for the virus.
The company instructed its workers to stay home and log in over the internet as it enacts new measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, the disease related to the coronavirus. The work-from-home order was first reported by MarketWatch and covers employees in Massachusetts, Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, and Baar, Switzerland. In a statement, Biogen said it told all of the 175 employees who attended the management meeting and who are showing symptoms of the respiratory virus that they will be tested by public health authorities and must self-quarantine during this time.
“We have informed employees who attended the management meeting and are symptomatic that, if they haven’t already, they will be contacted by the public health authorities to be tested and they must quarantine themselves. Additionally, these employees are being asked to isolate from the people they live with (e.g. family members, loved ones or roommates) until further notice, and these close contacts must also be quarantined until further notice,” the company said in a statement.
The numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases have escalated quickly. It was initially reported on Friday that three Biogen employees who attended that meeting had tested positive for the virus. Two of the employees came to the United States from the European Union and the other was from Tennessee.
Biogen said following the meeting at a hotel in Boston last week, several employees began reporting flu-like symptoms. After conferring with physicians, some of the employees were confirmed to have the flu, while the three tested positive for COVID-19.
Due to increasing concerns about the coronavirus, Biogen said last week that it was taking precautionary measures to mitigate the spread of illness. In addition to the work-from-home order, Biogen has also restricted work-related travel through the end of March.
“Protecting our employees and our communities is our priority. Biogen has been in regular contact with the relevant public health officials since the time the first cases of illness were reported,” Biogen said in its statement. “We are regularly communicating with all employees and directed all employees who are not feeling well to stay home and contact their healthcare provider as necessary.”
Boston-based WHDH reported Sunday afternoon that there have been a total of 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, with the bulk of them being associated with the Biogen conference.
Concerns about the virus are having broader impacts than just forcing some employees to work remotely. On Friday, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) made a decision to cancel its 2020 conference set for later this month in Orlando.
“Based on evaluation of evolving circumstances and coordination with an external advisory panel of medical professionals to support evidence-based decision making, it is clear that it would be an unacceptable risk to bring so many thousands of people together in Orlando next week, the organization said in its announcement.
According to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker, there have now been 111,317 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the globe. More than half, 62,373, have recovered. There have been 3,892 virus-related deaths. In the United States, there have been 564 confirmed cases, with 22 deaths and eight recoveries.