23:35 GMT26 February 2020
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    Google is temporarily closing all of its China offices due to the coronavirus rapidly spreading across the country, the company confirmed to The Verge on Wednesday.

    All Google offices in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan will be shut down. The offices are currently closed for the extended Lunar New Year holiday in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus. However, a Google spokesperson has confirmed that the company will continue to keep its offices closed "in accordance with the government guidance."

    Google has also advised its employees in China and those who have immediate family members who have recently visited China to return home as soon as possible. The company is also advising such employees to work from home for at least 14 days following their departure date from China. Google currently has four offices in China.

    The virus, which is officially known as 2019-nCoV and is related to the virus that causes sudden acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), first began spreading in the central Chinese city of Wuhan some time between December 12 and December 29.

    Some coronavirus cases have also been registered in Australia, Cambodia, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates. So far, at least 162 people have died and more than 6,000 have been infected in just China alone. No deaths have yet been registered outside China.

    The World Athletics said Wednesday that it had postponed the Indoor World Championships slated for March in Nanjing, China, until 2021, over concerns that athletes could be put at risk by competing while the outbreak is ongoing, Sputnik reported.

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