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Singapore clears bank office after staff member develops coronavirus

The Singapore bank DBS on Wednesday cleared a downtown office and told some 300 employees to work from home after one of its staff was infected with the new virus, adding to concerns that also led authorities to scale back an air show drawing thousands of visitors.

Singapore’s Health Ministry has confirmed 50 cases of the virus. The bank employee, a 62-year-old man, was the most recent case. The city has found several clusters of cases, including a church, a traditional Chinese medicine store, a business meeting held last month and a construction site.

DBS said in a statement it was informed Wednesday morning that an employee was confirmed to be infected and that as a precautionary measure it told all staff working on the same floor to work from home.

“We are also currently conducting detailed contact tracing with all employees and other parties that the infected person may have come into contact with,” DBS said.

The virus outbreak, which is centred in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has prompted numerous cities inside China to go into lockdown, left thousands of cruise ship passengers stranded aboard their vacation vessels and led many governments in the region to impose unprecedented travel restrictions.

The air show’s events went ahead as scheduled Wednesday, as rival aircraft makers Boeing and Airbus sought to draw attention to the aviation industry’s future potential while acknowledging the shadow cast by the outbreak that has led to cancellations of tens of thousands of flights.

Boeing, already struggling over the grounding of its 737 Max fleet after two crashes that killed nearly 350 people, reported zero orders for new jets in January and forecast the cargo business will likely contract in 2020.

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“We, like our customers, are trying to figure out the depth and breadth of this virus and the impact on the airlines,” Boeing’s vice-president for commercial marketing, Randy Tinseth, said Wednesday at the Singapore Air Show.

“Without doubt, we will see an impact,” he said.

Tinseth said that the cargo business will likely be flat this year and that growth in aircraft sales is likely to fall below its forecast of 2.5-2.7 per cent in 2020.

“If we’re not seeing goods travel, not seeing planes fly, it’s going to be tough to see any growth in the cargo market this year,” Tinseth said. “We see 14 months of contraction in the freight market.”

The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has prompted many airlines to halt flights to and from China and devastated travel within the country as many cities halted public transport, seeking to slow its spread.

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