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Baker McKenzie shuts London office amid Coronavirus fears

Baker McKenzie has shut its London office as a precaution after a member of staff was taken ill with suspected coronavirus.

First reported in RollonFriday, the firm shut its 100 New Bridge Street office on Thursday afternoon, with the 1,000-strong workforce, including 119 partners, sent home.

It is understood that a Bakers employee returning from northern Italy had been taken ill and is undergoing tests for the virus, also known as COVID-19.

Members of staff will be notified on Sunday whether it is safe to return to work on Monday morning.

A spokesperson for Baker McKenzie said: ‘Our priority is the health and wellbeing of our people and our clients and we have asked our London office employees to work from home for the time being while we are taking precautionary measures in response to a potential case of the COVID-19. We have a well-established agile working programme – including technology and IT systems for home working – which allows us to take these precautionary measures without impacting our client service delivery. We continue to closely monitor the situation and are following the advice and guidance issued by the Government and Public Health England.’

Italy now has more than 500 cases of the virus, of which 17 have proved fatal.

Fears around the impact of coronavirus on businesses have been mounting in recent weeks, with many concerned it could have financial crisis-level effect on the global economy.

Shearman & Sterling is among the firms to have implemented measures to mitigate the threat of the virus, imposing a travel ban for China and Hong Kong, limiting non-essential travel to contaminated jurisdictions, as well as putting in place remote working measures.

Law firm offices in Milan are on shut down after the outbreak, while Dentons temporarily closed its office in Wuhan, where the virus originated.

Meanwhile in the UK, three more cases of the disease have today (28 February) been confirmed, bringing the total to 19.

Outside law, Oil giant Chevron this week sent its 300 staff home from Canary Wharf as a precaution, along with Crossrail, which shares the same building. The real estate company that manages Canary Wharf suggested the firms reacted with an abundance of caution.