Spotify urges staff to work from home during coronavirus crisis

Spotify urges staff to work from home during coronavirus crisis
No one at Spotify has been confirmed to have the coronavirus. Photo: Fanni Olin Dahl/TT
Spotify is asking all its staff to work from home after Sweden heightened its coronavirus alert status.
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“I have asked Spotify employees to work from home in the next two weeks because of the heightened risk of COVID-19,” tweeted Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek on Tuesday.

“We all have an obligation to delay the spread of the virus and thus the expected pressure on our healthcare system. I hope other businesses in Sweden will follow suit,” he added.

Founded and headquartered in Sweden, the music streaming service has offices in several countries and around 5,000 staff. Ek's tweet was in Swedish and referred to Sweden, but it did not make explicitly specify whether the directions would apply to the Swedish office only, or to Spotify staff around the world.

EDITOR'S PICKS:

The decision was taken despite there being no confirmed cases of the coronavirus at Spotify.

“Considering the number of staff who use public transport or open offices at Spotify, we have asked all employees to work from home in the next two weeks,” Spotify communications director Frida Berg told Swedish news agency TT.

Swedish health authorities on Tuesday raised the risk of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, spreading inside Sweden from “moderate” to “very high”, after a handful of cases emerged that could not be immediately linked to international travel or direct contact with already confirmed patients.

More than 300 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in Sweden since it first reached the country in late January. The vast majority have only mild symptoms, but two patients are in intensive care.

Sweden's official advice from the Public Health Agency remains that it is only necessary to stay at home and avoid contact with others if you are experiencing symptoms of the virus, however mild. This applies in particular if you come into contact with vulnerable groups, for example if you work at or regularly visit care homes for the elderly, who are particularly at risk of developing a serious infection that could even be fatal.

But many companies, and even Swedish government agencies, are implementing stricter rules.

The Swedish Tax Agency, Employment Agency, Social Insurance Agency, Migration Agency and Pensions Agency are also asking staff returning from high-risk areas abroad to stay at home for 14 days, reports TT.

The majority of Sweden's patients contracted the virus either in Italy, the country by far worst affected in Europe with more than 10,000 confirmed cases, or via direct contact with one of those patients.

As of the morning of March 11th, there had been more than 119,000 confirmed cases worldwide, with more than 65,000 recoveries and more than 4,200 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins CSSE's live tracking.

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