Barclays worker in Canary Wharf tests positive for COVID-19

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
The headquarters of the British bank Barclays at Canary Wharf in London. (Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

A London-based staff member at Barclays (BARC.L) has tested positive for COVID-19, the bank confirmed in a statement.

An employee who usually works in the bank’s 5 North Colonnade office in Canary Wharf tested positive on Wednesday. The North Colonnade building is home to the bank’s trading floor and is the base for thousands of staff.

A spokesperson for Barclays said the staff member who tested positive has been in self-isolation since 9 March “following notification of their potential exposure to the virus.” The spokesperson didn’t elaborate on how the employee was exposed to the novel coronavirus.

“We are undertaking the recommended deep clean and disinfection of their workspace and the surrounding area where the colleague is based, in accordance with PHE [Public Health England] guidelines, and are undertaking additional, ongoing deep-cleaning as a precautionary measure,” the spokesperson said.

“We have also identified colleagues and clients who had close contact with our affected colleague, and are advising those colleagues to self-quarantine in line with PHE guidance.”

Staff in London were not being relocated to backup locations at this time, a spokesperson said.

“At this stage, we are operating business as usual; we continue to monitor the situation closely and will take further action as appropriate,” the spokesperson said. “The health and safety of our staff, customers and clients is our top priority and we are providing every support to the member of staff and their family.”

It comes a day after a Barclays trader in New York also tested positive for COVID-19. That individual had been quarantined since 3 March and is believed to have contracted the virus on 22 February. Deep cleaning is underway and staff who came into contact with the infected employee have been told to self-isolate.

Last week an employee at HSBC’s Canary Wharf office tested positive for COVID-19. 1,200 employees at the Canary Wharf offices of S&P Global Platts, a commodity pricing agency, were also sent home after a visitor was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Banks have been reviewing emergency continuity plans in recent weeks to ensure they can continue to operate if Canary Wharf is hit with a more widespread outbreak. Precautions include splitting up teams and relocating staff to backup offices in places like Croydon or Farnborough.

JP Morgan last Thursday began implementing its emergency plans, sending some staff to a backup office in Basingstoke.

Barclays chief executive Jes Staley said in a memo to staff, seen by Yahoo Finance UK, that the impact of coronavirus would be “very tough.”

“I don’t underestimate for a moment that the demands on Barclays from customers and clients are going to increase a lot, and will do so at the same time as we have to manage the impact on our own company,” Staley wrote.

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