On January 30, 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a “public health emergency of international concern.” This was, in part, an acknowledgement of the geographic spread of the virus and the need for intensified support for preparation and response, especially in vulnerable countries and regions. Further information is available in the WHO statement. On January 31, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States also declared a public health emergency for the United States. Further information from the CDC can be found here. COVID-19 is now affecting an increasing number of countries in Asia, including Korea, and Japan.

This alert focuses on issues relating to data privacy in an employment context. We outline common issues that businesses operating in the People’s Republic of China (PRC or China), Hong Kong, and Singapore are likely to face arising from the outbreak of COVID-19. The issues that we have identified are not meant to be exhaustive. As this is a developing situation, governments are revising their responses to mitigate the emerging risk to public health.

This article is co-authored by Carolyn Chia, a lawyer at Resource Law LLC.

Reed Smith LLP is licensed to operate as a foreign law practice in Singapore under the name and style, Reed Smith Pte Ltd (hereafter collectively, "Reed Smith"). Where advice on Singapore law is required, we will refer the matter to and work with Reed Smith's Formal Law Alliance partner in Singapore, Resource Law LLC, where necessary.