Eli Lilly and Takeda have asked employees to work from home where possible to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission in the wake of a number of people who attended a management meeting held by Biogen testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. The meeting was held late last month in Boston.
Scott MacGregor, a spokesperson for Eli Lilly, said that “out of an abundance of caution,” the company has asked all US employees to work from home if possible. He explained that the measure is expected to reduce the risk of virus transmission to employees who do not have the option of working remotely, such as those involved in manufacturing and research.
Eli Lilly, which had already imposed international travel restrictions in response to the outbreak, now says only domestic travel that is deemed “business critical” will be allowed. MacGregor noted that there are no known cases of Eli Lilly employees with COVID-19, adding “we hope to maintain normal productivity as much as possible throughout this period.”
Meanwhile, Takeda urged all employees to work from home as well, including the around 5000 workers based in Massachusetts, until further notice, and has cancelled all non-essential international and domestic business travel by any means other than their cars through May 31. The Japanese drugmaker noted that staff who work in a laboratory or a manufacturing plant should limit workplace gatherings to no more than 10 people and keep at least six feet away from each other.
The decisions by Eli Lilly and Takeda come after Biogen ordered all of its employees to work from home until further notice. Biogen said that all staff members who attended the management meeting and are symptomatic will be contacted by the public health authorities. According to the Massachusetts Health Department, there are 13 confirmed cases of the virus in Massachusetts, the majority of whom are connected to Biogen and the meeting.
Along with company meetings, some medical conferences have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, with both the upcoming American College of Cardiology’s (ACC) annual scientific session and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) conference being cancelled.