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Aviva suspends staff business travel as coronavirus cases worsen

PUBLISHED: 12:59 25 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:56 27 February 2020

Aviva in Norwich. Pic: Archant

Aviva in Norwich. Pic: Archant

Norwich insurance giant Aviva has put a halt to business travel to high-risk locations and restricted all other staff work trips.

Workers in protective suits spray disinfectant as a precaution against coronavirus. Picture: AP Photo/Lee Jin-manWorkers in protective suits spray disinfectant as a precaution against coronavirus. Picture: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

As the numbers of coronavirus sufferers increases worldwide the firm is taking a "prudent approach". This includes advising even the partners of employees who might be visiting places such as Italy to self-isolate and work from home for a fortnight.

This applies even if the person has not themselves travelled.

The firm, with a Norwich base in Surrey Street, has also improved its computer systems to allow more staff to work out of the office.

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The hard-line approach emerged after a former employee of Aviva, who is going to see the Six Nations rugby game between England and Italy in Rome next month, was advised his wife, who works for Aviva in Norwich, would need to quarantine herself even though she is not travelling.

A close friend of the employee, who did not want to be named, said: "Apparently his wife has been told that the official Aviva instruction is that if he does this, then she will have to take two weeks off on his return."

An Aviva spokeswoman in Norwich said: "As the situation is evolving rapidly we are taking a prudent approach, hence the advice to self-isolate and work from home for employees who are close contacts of people who have travelled. Our focus is on the safety and wellbeing of our people and customers.

"We have suspended international business travel to and from high-risk locations and restricted all other business travel. We have given clear guidance to our employees who have been travelling to countries classified as high-risk by WHO, the World Health Organisation, to inform their managers and if they show symptoms or feel unwell on their return that they should contact the NHS and work from home for 14 days.

"Travel from certain countries will mean self-quarantine for our people regardless of whether or not they are showing symptoms. We are reviewing this on a daily basis in line with government guidance and the changing situation.

"We have upgraded our systems to allow for an increased volume of home working.

"More generally, we are giving regular updates on the situation to our people and our leaders and are reminding our employees to follow all the usual hygiene and health precautions. We are fully adhering to guidance from Public Health England or any relevant public health institutions in our markets."

Among other locations, Aviva operates in China, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia and Canada.

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