Motorola workers still quarantined

The Singapore worker infected with a deadly flu-like virus has been discharged from the hospital, while hundreds of her co-workers still remain at home under quarantine.

3 min read
The Motorola night-shift worker in Singapore infected with a deadly flu-like virus has been discharged from the hospital, days after news of her illness caused the worried company to tell more than 500 of her co-workers to stay home.

The plant is running at partial capacity at night, with about two-thirds of workers still quarantined at home under orders of the health ministry. However, workers have been added to the day production line to make up the shortfall, company spokeswoman Lynn Chan said.

On Thursday, the U.S.-based electronics maker decided to tell night-shift workers to stay home following news that a female worker was diagnosed with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a potentially fatal pneumonia-like illness sweeping Asia.

Motorola isn't the only tech company affected by the disease. Over the weekend, semiconductor giant Intel told about 60 to 70 employees assigned to a Hong Kong office that they should stay home this week. The decision came after one employee at the office showed symptoms of SARS, said Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy. The affected employees work on one floor of a three-floor office that serves as Intel's sales and marketing headquarters for the region. "As a precaution and given the environment there, we decided to let our employees work from home this week," Mulloy said

The Motorola employee infected with SARS is thought to have contracted the disease from a family member and has been on medical leave since March 20.

The move to pull all 532 night-shift staff from work was a precautionary measure, although the health ministry has advised that only those seated near the infected worker stay home, Chan said.

Partial night production at the plant began Friday after the facility was cleaned and sanitized. The company said in a statement there were no disruptions to other operations.

Still quarantined at home are 305 night workers, according to Singapore's health ministry.

Singapore is regional home base for many tech multinationals, and unofficial reports say that several of them have told staff to cancel travel plans to the affected areas. Also many companies are allowing parents to take leave to care for children affected by the nationwide school closure.

Elsewhere in the region, a possible SARS infection in one of its employees also prompted tech giant Hewlett-Packard to shutter the doors of its 300-person Hong Kong office on Friday.

HP said it has started cleaning the office, which takes up five floors in an office tower on Hong Kong island, and has also distributed information about the illness to its staff throughout the region.

The Hong Kong office will remain shut while the company determines whether the employee suspected of having SARS is actually ill with the disease, HP spokeswoman Monica Sarkar said. If a SARS-related illness is confirmed, HP will keep workers from the office at home during the incubation period of the disease, she added.

SARS has an incubation period of about 14 days.

CNETAsia's Winston Chai reported from Singapore. News.com's Ed Frauenheim contributed to this report.