CORONAVIRUS/TSMC reports one COVID-19 case, 30 employees in quarantine

03/19/2020 03:49 PM

Taipei, March 19 (CNA) An employee of contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) has been infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which has resulted in home quarantining of 30 others who had close contact with the patient, the company reported Wednesday.

In a statement filed with the Taiwan Stock Exchange, TSMC said the development would have no significant impact on its operations.

However, the company said, it has put in place a system that would allow its employees to work in small groups in segregated spaces to reduce the risk of contagion. In addition, the routine disinfection efforts at the company will be stepped up in both the work areas and public spaces, TSMC said.

It said the employee who tested positive for COVID-19 is in hospital and will be receiving any necessary counselling and assistance, which will be provided by the company.

Regarding the 30 employees in quarantine for 14 days, TSMC said it will closely monitor their health and offer them assistance.

Meanwhile, all employees at the company have been asked to wear surgical masks in meetings and training sessions and when they go out in public, the company said.

TSMC is headquartered in the Hsinchu Science Park and has plants in the other major science parks in Hsinchu, Taichung and Kaohsiung.

The company did not name the location at which the infected employee was working, but deputy head of the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau Hsu Tseng-ju (許增如) said all companies there have been asked to increase their efforts to prevent the spread of the virus.

For example, he said, manufacturers in the park have been asked to communicate with their clients abroad via video conferencing instead of holding face to face meetings.

Companies in the park have also been advised to put in place contingency plans for offsite work in the event of a major COVID-19 outbreak there, Hsu said.

On Thursday, TSMC shares dropped 3.69 percent to close at NT$248.00 (US$8.15), while the benchmark weighted index ended down 5.83 percent at 8,681.34 points.

The stock went ex-dividend Thursday to give NT$2.5 in cash dividend per share on its earnings for the third quarter of last year, and failed to return to its previous share price level amid rising concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

Ex-dividend is when a stock begins trading without the dividend value, which means that on Thursday, TSMC shares began trading at NT$2.5 less than their closing price of NT$260.00 on Wednesday.

(By Chang Chien-chung and Frances Huang)

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