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JP Morgan moves London staff as coronavirus precaution

JP Morgan (JPM) has begun putting in place emergency risk management measures in London, amid fears about a possible coronavirus outbreak.

Sales and trading staff in the US bank’s markets team were told in a memo on Thursday that staff would be split between different offices from Monday.

JP Morgan executives said the decision was a “precautionary measure” to limit the number of possible infections in an outbreak. The split will also ensure the bank can continue to operate without disruption if there is an outbreak.

CANARY WHARF, LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2017/09/20: JP Morgan building, from Millwall.  Stands in the Canary Wharf financial, business and shopping district in London, U.K., JP Morgan. (Photo by Brais G Rouco/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The JP Morgan building in the Canary Wharf financial district in London. (Brais G Rouco/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“Dividing our workforce into different locations improves our ability to serve clients continuously while reducing the health risks associated with physical contact should a case arise,” the memo said

JP Morgan employs around 16,000 people across the UK, with thousands at its Canary Wharf offices in London. The bank declined to comment on its contingency measures and the memo.

The precautionary measures came on the same day as HSBC sent some London staff home after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. The bank is deep cleaning part of its Canary Wharf office where the infected employee worked.

Big banks have been reviewing resilience plans in recent weeks to make sure they can continue to operate in the event of COVID-19 outbreak among staff. Mitigation plans include splitting up teams to ensure entire units aren’t taken out by an outbreak and ensuring staff can work from home. JP Morgan said in Thursday’s memo it had been testing its resilience plans in New York and London.

Last week US oil giant Chevron, advertising agency OMD, and law firm Baker McKenzie all sent home London staff as a precaution after employees reported flu-like symptoms.

A total of 115 cases have been confirmed in the UK so far, with the total rising by 30 between Wednesday and Thursday.