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Coronavirus: Technology giants join China shutdown

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Google is temporarily closing all of its offices in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan as a result of the coronavirus.

Other tech giants, including Amazon and Microsoft, have also taken action to protect staff from infection.

This week global corporations have been shutting operations in China and advising overseas staff not to visit the country.

Many employees are being asked to work from home or extend their Lunar New Year holiday.

Google said it is stopping staff travelling to China and Hong Kong, while employees currently in the country have been advised to leave as soon as possible and then work from home for a minimum of two weeks.

Google has four offices in mainland China, although the company has not said how many staff it employs there.

While Google’s search engine is not available in China, its offices focus on sales and engineering for its advertising business.

Other global technology giants, including Microsoft and Amazon, have announced similar measures as they attempt to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we are restricting business travel to and from China until further notice and encouraging our employees to follow the health and safety guidelines provided by international health agencies”, an Amazon spokesperson told the BBC.

Earlier this week Facebook became the first major US firm to tell staff to avoid travelling to China.

Meanwhile General Motors has become the latest big car maker to announce that it is extending its Lunar New Year holiday manufacturing plant closures. The US company said its Chinese factories will remain shut until 9 February.

On Wednesday Toyota also announced that its production plants in China will stay closed until 9 February. The Japanese car maker said the closures were in line with transport lockdowns imposed by Chinese authorities and as the company assesses its supply chain.

Several other international car companies operating in Wuhan, which is at the epicentre of the outbreak, have previously said they were taking action to bring staff back to their home countries.

French car making group PSA, which owns the brands Peugeot and Citroen, and Japan’s Honda and Nissan have announced plans to evacuate staff and their families from China.

Wuhan is China’s seventh biggest city and a major motor manufacturing hub.