Coronavirus update: SAP confirms temporary closure of Sandton office

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German software firm SAP has joined institutions that had to close temporarily because of the coronavirus reaching South Africa.

The company confirmed on Tuesday that it took a decision to close its Sandton office on the first two days of the week after becoming aware that two of SAP South Africa employees had come into contact with the second person who was confirmed to be infected.

SAP South Africa, however, emphasised that it does not have a confirmed case of coronavirus, but it’s just taking precautionary steps. "We are working closely with the The National Institute for Communicable Diseases to follow all required protocols," said company.

On Saturday, health minister Zweli Mkhize announced that a woman in Gauteng had become the second person in the country to test positive for the virus. On Monday, he said four more people in had tested positively, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to seven.

All the confirmed cases in South Africa involve a group of 10 people that recently travelled together to Italy. The people that the group had contact with upon returning to the country are still undergoing tests or are yet to be tested, said the minister.

In a statement sent by SAP head of global corporate affairs, Delia Sieff, the company said it was notified on Sunday about its Sandton employees recently having had contact with the second person confirmed to have coronavirus.

"Both employees are well, but have taken immediate precautions by entering a period of quarantine while awaiting test results. As a precautionary measure only, SAP took an action to close the SAP Johannesburg office for Monday and Tuesday of this week, and carrying out extensive disinfection measures.

"During this time our Johannesburg-based employees are working remotely and conducting all their day-to-day meetings virtually," read the company’s statement.

The closure of the Sandton office is the first confirmed instance in corporate South Africa in which company had to close because of the virus scare. Many companies in the country have warned their shareholders that they are experiencing supply chain disruptions because of the outbreak and that this will likely affect their 2020 earnings. SAP said its Sandton office closure was only confirmed for two days.

On Monday, Grayston Preparatory School, also in Sandton, took a decision to close for the day, after discovering that one of its teachers had contact with the group that recently returned from Italy.

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