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Firms hit by virus scare

Several major Swiss companies have imposed travel restrictions on their employees following a scare over a highly contagious form of pneumonia.

The country's leading bank, UBS, said it had cancelled all visits to China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam and the Canadian city of Toronto.

The action is in line with recommendations issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), which has advised people from travelling to these areas.

According to the latest figures issued by the WHO on Wednesday, at least 75 people around the world have died from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) and 2,000 others have been infected

UBS employees who have returned from Asia have been ordered to stay at home for ten days before they resume work in Switzerland.

Credit Suisse Group has advised its staff to keep business trips to the affected regions to a minimum.

Business trips

The food multinational, Nestlé, and the electrical engineering company, ABB, announced on Wednesday that they were also restricting business trips to southeast Asia.

Nestlé spokesman François-Xavier Perroud said all non-essential travel to the region had been cancelled.

"There is constant movement between our Vaud headquarters and Asia. A travel ban would be a handicap," he said.

Geneva-based Pictet Bank said it had put on hold all travel to Hong Kong and Singapore. Staff already in the region will have to undergo medical checks on their return to Switzerland.

On Tuesday, exhibitors from some Asian countries were banned from doing business at an international watch and jewellery fair in Basel and Zurich.

swissinfo with agencies

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