Several major banks, from HSBC to Standard Chartered to UOB, have closed outlets in China, Hong Kong, and Macau, due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.
HSBC has shut 24 branches, Standard Chartered 18, and UOB has closed many outlets in China and Hong Kong. UOB has also halted or postponed large-scale internal meetings and public gatherings in Singapore.
UOB is the latest major bank to close or suspend operations in the area. In a statement, the bank apologises for any inconvenience the Kwun Tong temporary closure may cause. It referred customers to its other outlets in the city.
The bank it has put in place work-from-home arrangements, split office measures and arranged for meetings to be held via tele- or video-conference in Hong Kong.
At least some 20% to 30% of bank branches are expected to be closed temporarily, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has said. Some of the remaining ones will be open for restricted hours, added the HKMA.
The HKMA is the territory’s currency board and de facto central bank.
Closures and restricted services
HSBC has closed 24 branches, premier centres, and business centres until further notice. The closed branches include those in Nathan Road, Aberdeen Centre and Convention Plaza Centre. The bank has also closed one branch in Macau.
Standard Chartered has suspended operations at 18 outlets. They include branches at Chinachem Central, Great Eagle Centre in Wanchai, and Exchange Square in Central. The bank has over 70 branches in Hong Kong and one in Macau.
“We have stepped up the cleaning and public hygiene measures in the branch, and are providing flexible work arrangements to the staff, including working from home,” said a spokesman for Standard Chartered.
Singapore-based DBS Bank said 13 of its outlets are providing limited service until further notice. Teller services have been suspended at those branches.
DBS has not yet closed any branches. And its remaining 17 branches in Hong Kong are fully operational.
The Hong Kong Association of Banks website will have regular updates on the status of branches.
China’s coronavirus death toll exceeds 1,000
Meanwhile the Chinese health authorities have reported 108 new coronavirus deaths on February 10. This is the highest daily toll since the outbreak began in Wuhan late last year.
The government promptly removed two senior officials in the hard-hit province of Hubei were removed from their jobs.
The total number of deaths on the mainland reached 1,016, the National Health Commission.
Some 2,478 new cases of infection have been confirmed, bringing the total to 42,638.