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NEW DELHI: Software services industry body Nasscom on Wednesday flagged the escalating threat of COVID-19, also known as novel coronavirus, calling it a key concern for governments, corporates and citizens globally.

It urged restricting all non-essential, work-related travel of employees, as part of measures to check the spread, adding that a mandatory prior approval from a senior leader would be required for undertaking essential travel.

"Nasscom and the technology industry is fully committed to deploy the necessary precautions required to deal with this situation. Business continuity and employee safety remains our key priority as an industry. The industry is also putting in place contingency measures and leveraging technology to ensure business continuity for customers and employees, " it said in a statement.

Companies have been extensively deploying technology solutions and online collaboration tools for business interactions, client meetings and internal workouts, allowing employees to work from home wherever possible.

Employees who are even slightly unwell or unable to work or show any suspected symptoms are advised to take all necessary precaution with regular medical check-ups. These employees are advised to not be in physical contact with others and only be connected for work from their homes if required. Companies are also enhancing workplace sanitation and effective monitoring of food provided to employees, the industry body said.

NASSCOM has asked the government to allow flexibility in specific policies for special economic zones (SEZ) and software technology parks (STPI) units that restrict work from home. This is critical for companies to ensure business continuity.

"Based on discussions with our members, we do not see any immediate business impact, however we are following developments around this issue closely. The industry has a large footprint of on-shoring centres/offshore and client requirements can be met through such centres, if required. The industry has also put in place Business Continuity plans and has internal taskforces to monitor the situation continuously," the statement said.

The new strain of coronavirus has so far spread to 75 countries across the world, infecting over 93,000. The death toll has now crossed 3,100.

South Korea now has nearly 5,000 cases, the largest outside of China, closely followed by Iran with 2,336 people affected by the virus. US has reported 127 cases.

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank will shift the spring gathering of finance ministers and central bankers, to be held in Washington in April, to a "virtual format" following the alarming spread of COVID-19.

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