By David Lawder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group on Friday advised their Washington headquarters staff to work from home after an IMF employee was diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
An IMF spokesman said the global-crisis lending institution “remains fully operational and stands ready to serve its members” despite a suspension of mission travel to European and other countries designated as high risk for community spread by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The advisories, which are not mandatory, affect about 2,000 IMF headquarters staff and about 16,000 Washington-based World Bank and International Finance Corp employees and outside consultants. The neighboring institutions are based in downtown Washington near the White House.
The IMF staff member diagnosed with COVID-19 is self-isolating and is receiving appropriate medical care, the IMF spokesman said, adding: “We are working with local public health authorities to identify the staff member’s close contacts and those who may have been affected.”
No World Bank Group staff or consultants have tested positive for the coronavirus, and the multilateral development lender remains fully operational, a bank spokesman said.
Only essential IMF travel will be allowed to the high-risk areas identified by CDC, which now include 29 European countries and principalities, China, Iran and South Korea, the IMF spokesman said.
Both the IMF and World Bank earlier this week tested the ability of thousands of their staff members to work remotely. The spread of the coronavirus has already prompted them to host their spring meetings next month by video conference.
(Reporting by David Lawder in Washington; Editing by Richard Chang, Matthew Lewis and Will Dunham)