The Federation of International Employers (FedEE) is advising companies to be careful not to over-react to a falsely perceived virus threat.
Whilst certainly the 2019-nCoV is highly contagious, it is genetically part of the “cold family” and there has only been one death outside China - and that a recently arrived visitor from China. Even inside China the mortality rate has been less than 2%.
By comparison, deaths from flu have amounted globally to around 84,000 over the last six weeks alone.
In fact, nearly all deaths in China itself have been due to secondary infections suffered by those weakened by the virus and already suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - which accounts for 9% of premature deaths in China.
Therefore, there is little risk of death for otherwise healthy staff, even if they contracted the virus - provided they seek urgent medical assistance. Moreover, the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control has stated that “the likelihood of observing further limited human-to-human transmission within the EU/EEA is estimated as very low to low if cases are detected early and appropriate infection prevention and control (IPC) practices are implemented."
According to Robin Chater, Secretary-General of the Federation, “The priority at the moment is to ensure that fear concerning this relatively benign virus does not lead to a surge in xenophobia amongst the working population. Acts of blatant discrimination in the name of health concerns are to be found everywhere - from racial innuendo to blatant mistreatment, threats and violence. It would seem that we are witnessing a worldwide plague of inhumanity, suspicion and jealousy based on a colossal ignorance - which could so easily undermine the fragile civil order that has taken centuries to achieve.”