As the coronavirus outbreak rages on, its effects are being felt around the world. In Mexico, Uber felt compelled to act when it learned that its drivers had possibly come into contact with a person suspected to have coronavirus. Consequently, it temporarily deactivated the accounts of 240 users who had also travelled with the drivers in Mexico City.
Uber informed its users about the incident in a statement posted to Twitter this weekend. In the statement, the company said that it had received information about a rider suspected of being infected with coronavirus from Mexico City’s Health Department. Uber proceeded to provide the department with the contact information of two drivers that had possibly been in contact with that user.
Nonetheless, Uber did not stop there. It explains in the statement that it temporarily deactivated the accounts of 240 users that had also travelled with the two drivers and informed them that they could contact Mexico’s Epidemiological Intelligence and Health Unit (UIES) for more information or to report symptoms.
In a screenshot of a message Uber reportedly sent to affected users in Mexico, the company says the following: “For your safety and the safety of others, your account will not be able to be used to request rides at the moment.”
Mexico currently does not have any confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Feb. 2 Situation Report. There are 14,557 confirmed cases globally in 23 countries. As of Sunday, there have been 304 deaths, all of which except one have been in China.
In its recommendations and advice to the public, the WHO states that individuals should avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections, practice frequent hand-washing (especially after direct contact with sick people or their environment) and avoid unprotected contact with farm or wild animals, among others.
There is still much we don’t know about the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, such as its lethality, who is most at risk and its most common form of transmission, among others. However, the New York Times reports that leading infectious disease experts believe that coronavirus is likely to become a worldwide pandemic, which is essentially an ongoing epidemic, a.k.a. a sudden increase in the number of cases of a disease above normal expected levels.
Companies from various sectors have been grappling with how to deal with the coronavirus. Many, like Uber, have taken preventative measures within and outside China to try to contain the outbreak and its spread. Apple announced earlier this weekend that it was closing its stores and offices in mainland China and limiting employee travel to China to “business critical” matters. Meanwhile, Disney closed its theme parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong as a precautionary and preventative measure.