UN non-essential staff to work from home

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that millions could die if coronavirus spread unchecked

All United Nations staff at its headquarters in New York were told Friday to work from home for at least three weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak unless it was essential for them to be present.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the plan was "to reduce our physical presence at United Nations Headquarters, while continuing to deliver on our mandates."

"Your health and well-being remain my greatest concern. Be safe, be smart, be kind," he said in a separate message to staff Thursday. About 3,000 UN employees are based in New York.

A Philippine diplomat this week tested positive for the new coronavirus in the first recorded case at UN headquarters.

Many organizations and companies around the world have sent staff home to try to reduce the spread of the virus.