The coronavirus outbreak originating in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province of the People's Republic of China (PRC), has captured the world's attention as the number of cases continue to rise rapidly and the disease continues to spread.

In light this extraordinary occurrence, companies operating in China have been scrambling to find out what exactly are their obligations under the law in the face of this outbreak and what should they be doing vis-à-vis their employees. In this respect, long-standing general laws and regulations related to public health and work safety, as well as emergency measures recently issued by the government to specifically deal with the coronavirus outbreak, need to be followed.

Pursuant to a notice issued by the the National Health Commission (NHC) of the PRC on January 20, 2020 (“NHC Notice”), the novel coronavirus has been classified as a Class B level of “communicable disease” under the PRC Law on the Prevention and Treatment of Communicable Diseases (“Communicable Diseases Law”), though certain measures generally applicable to Class A diseases (the most serious type) should apply to the coronavirus.

During this critical period, the PRC central and local governments are introducing new regulations and policies almost daily, to prevent and contain transmission of the coronavirus. We set out below the responses to some frequently asked questions about what employers should be doing. Companies should continue monitoring national and local developments in cities where they have operations.

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