Is It Ethical to Ask Someone Who Just Came Back from China Recently to Not Come to Work/School?

Corona virus is definitely a big issue at the moment. It also creates some ethical issues among many of us.

My mate told me today in his workplace, his colleague who just came back from China were "confronted" by her peers asking her to leave the office immediately because they are afraid she might have the virus.
Long story short, she left from the office, obviously not in a good term.

This makes me thinking, is it ethical to do so? At the same time, the fear is understandable. But if I were that person, I would be kind of offended even though I know I might be just fine…

What do you think guys? Is it normal and ethical to do so?

Poll Options

  • 804
  • 190


  • +182

    If necessary, such guideline or recommendation should come from the company level, not any individual.

    • +10

      Very true, but I think Oz govt should take the first initiate releasing some guidelines first..Workplace, school or basically everywhere is at risk now.

      Some official guidelines will be useful

      • +9

        At our school, the Principal released a memo to all students/parents saying no immediate risk, school's still on.

        The only exceptions were if you have traveled to China last 2 weeks, or feel flu-like symptoms, see the GP, and notify the school.

        • Symptoms might appear after 7 days. So this has to be taken seriously.

          • +1

            @wanderingeyesau: you can't just assume everyone is incubating.

            • @lostn: Exactly! That's why you target the group that's most likely to get the virus. The worst thing is that the virus can be transmitted whilst the patient is asymptomatic.

              Would you rather:

              A open the schools, infect every single kid and their families and then blame the schools, then the schools blame scomo.


              Close the school now check up with everyone and make sure they are not carrying the virus, the. Reopen a few weeks later.

              Like HK they have their schools closed till March.

      • +8

        Department of Education have guidelines for staff and students in schools and universities

        Can be excluded if you have symptoms or been in close contact with a person with symptoms
        Cannot be excluded otherwise.

        This is for public institutions though, private schools are taking a stricter approach.

      • +31

        It seems like other governments are more proactive than ours. China has locked down cities with 60 million people in them.

        The “Philippine authorities are sending back 500 Chinese tourists who came from Wuhan”

        The British and French governments are putting passengers arriving from Wuhan into 14 day quarantine.

        Every school in China is not re-opening after the holidays next week.

        I have much less faith in our government after their handling of the bushfires in the last 3 months.

        • +3

          The government’s response seems reasonable and proportionate.

          What do you propose they do?

          • +5

            @DisabledUser247855: Well that's just your opinion. MP & Dr Phelps are saying this:



            Hong Kong, Taiwan, North Korea and Mongolia are moving towards lock down on Chinese inbound…

            If it looks like a bird and sounds like a bird…

            • @compound: then its superman….

            • @compound: You are comparing apples to oranges. The distances from locations you mention there to Wuhan are all comparable to those between major cities on Australia's East code. Some of those locations you can drive from to Wuhan in a day.

              On the other hand, Australia is an island almost 8000km away from ground zero, which is relative distance from Wuhan to major locations in the Western World, much of which shares the same land mass.

              • @DisabledUser247855: it's not only about distance.
                all it needs is one or several super-spreader.

                those in Gold Coast were travelling on plane. we don't know if those two have infected 10 people who sat near them on the plane.
                while those 10 people haven't developed symptom yet, they may have already infected 20 other.

          • @DisabledUser247855: So the Chinese have more stringent controls in place to contain the virus then Australia has because the liberals are afraid of being accused of "racism"for stopping Chinese entering the country (who may be infected).. Makes sense

        • There is no city on earth with 60 Mil even during high tourism. Perhaps you meant province or prefecture, even then they aren't 'locked down' just restricted access if you are poor. People are still moving in Wuhan and Hubei just depends on amount and how you are moved (US citizen ect)

          • @wiipantz:

            China has locked down cities with 60 million people i

        • +1

          It seems like other governments are more proactive than ours. China has locked down cities with 60 million people in them.

          Yes, because China is ground zero. We are not.

          The “Philippine authorities are sending back 500 Chinese tourists who came from Wuhan”

          If they left Wuhan before the lockdown, that is fair. We shouldn't be getting anyone from Wuhan because it's been locked down.

          The British and French governments are putting passengers arriving from Wuhan into 14 day quarantine.

          Fair also.

          I have much less faith in our government

          If we have people from Wuhan in the last 14 days here, they should be put into quarantine. But the OP is asking if we should blanket ban anyone who went to China not specifically Wuhan. That's simply not justified, and the government itself does not recommend this, nor have they put travel advisory warnings for provinces aside from Wuhan.

      • and if she had turned on her computer she may have seen an email that said exactly the same thing.

        All ado about nothing. The decision to self isolate HAS been made by the Government.

      • yeah official guidelines have been released. if people looked them up they would see that China is a big place and harassing someone out of work for being in the country is not part of the guidelines

    • +25

      at my work we all received a company wide email that advised to cancel or postpone any upcoming work trips to China, and also to avoid if possible going into work for a week or so if you have just arrived back form China.

      this may be seen as a bit drastic but my company deals in the health industry and have a lot of Nurses and Clinical site operators so would be dealing with a lot of individuals who would be at a higher risk of death if they caught the virus.

      • +9

        At least there is one sensible company doing this. I hope others take note and do the same. There are still many unknowns with this virus. Should be treated with caution.

      • +3

        We received the something similar, cancel all travel to the region and if you are coming back from a holiday work from home for at least 14 days.

    • +5

      I guess the company can choose to send this one person home, or have half the company at home.

      I sure won't be risking my family unnecessarily by spending my day working next to patient zero.

      • +14

        Patient zero is dead.

        • +35

          Even more the reason not to work next to them..

        • Wrong, patient zero is alive and well. We need to trace them down, extract their blood and find a cure!

    • Correct, it is wrong to ask an individual unless the process is in place. Confirmed cases of the coronavirus is present in Sydney suburbs far closer than a lot of places in China.

      Going by that logic, no one in Sydney should be allowed at work but everybody in the safe cities in China should be just fine.

      Realistically, a lot of schools are starting a policy of getting a clearance certificate prior to coming back to work which is very fair as it's free for those that were probable cases for exposure.

      • If thousands of people were sick with coronavirus in Sydney you would be right.

    • true that..

      my colleague is back from India after a month's holidays and is requesting for 'work from home' option for next 14 days as he thinks he is at risk as India is closer to China.

      • there is already a medium in India

    • Yes because companies have the welfare of their employees as the absolute number one priority always.

      • -2

        Exactly, my company has not issued any such notice and continues to be ignorant

  • +80

    Someone's feelings of being offended are immaterial compared to the real risk of spreading the virus. It has an incubation period of up to 14 days, taking (at least) a few days to a week out of public circulation after coming back from China should be basic common sense.

    • +34

      Lol, you and 'common sense' have a tenuous relationship at most.

    • Spot on.

    • -6

      real risk of spreading the virus

      Would you also support a workplace ban for anyone who has been in a public place during flu season?

      • +14

        The new Wuhan virus is a lot more dangerous than the flu.

        There's petitions by the Chinese community asking for a stricter government response including isolating people who've returned from China.

        • +1

          I just wanted someone to endorse step one in my master plan of banning office buildings ;)

          I don't think it's practical for the Government to forcibly isolate everyone who's come back from China, as those petitions seem to be asking. I guess there must be some kind of plan in a disaster preparedness handbook spelling out how they could do such a thing, but it sounds expensive and rather unprecedented (I don't recall such a thing during SARS, which AFAIK is more deadly than this one).

          They could (maybe should, I'm not an epidemiologist) ask for people to voluntarily stay home, but selfish jerks are still gonna go around spreading it. Taiwan has a law fining said jerks, one guy over there got hit with it after he went to a nightclub soon after coming back sick from Wuhan.

          Ooh, apparently NSW has asked kids to stay home until cleared.

          • -1

            @abb: Yup.

            The NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Education Minister Sarah Mitchell say while the risk of the virus spreading is low, they are acting as a precaution given the incubation period can be up to 14 days.

            Parents will be asked — but not required — to keep their children home from school if they have been in China in the past two weeks.

            Pretty much as we've been saying in this thread - the long incubation period makes more precautions necessary, and it's all of China that's risky, not just Wuhan.

      • @abb This new virus has a mortality rate of 4% compared to the common flu's 0.1%.
        Your apples to oranges argument is just comical.

        • This is new we don’t have herd immunity. The issue will be what is the level in a years time.

        • -3

          It is far less than 4%, more like 2% or less

          • +2

            @Ny-ax: "Right now, 2019-nCoV appears to be less virulent, with about a 4 percent mortality rate."

            I admit, the figure can change depending on the source you're quoting. Truth be told, no one can give you an accurate figure given the lack of data. But from what we can see so far, it is clear this new virus is no common flu.

            Over 150 people have already died from it.

            • +4

              @berry580: SARS had a death rate of just 6% in China but over 10% in other more developed countries (18% in Canada). I don't think that is because of China's more advanced medical practices. The figures are rubbish.

              • +2

                @Wallyt99: Yet displaying signs of "herd ignorance" still appears to the norm here.

              • +1


                SARS had a death rate of just 6% in China but over 10% in other more developed countries (18% in Canada). I don't think that is because of China's more advanced medical practices. The figures are rubbish.

                Canada is the only country outside of Asia to have deaths from SARS. They did not know how to deal with it.

                China is uniquely positioned as a country whose government can get things done, due to not needing to debate issues in parliament and require support from the opposition to do necessary but unpopular things such as closing off a city of millions of people. They have the authority to do what is necessary, and have exercised it again here. The WHO's secretary general has praised their efforts in containing this and said they have gone above and beyond what is required of them.

                So far 100% of deaths from nCov have been entirely in China. The rest of the world has good controls in place to prevent the spread.

              • @Wallyt99: China has nothing but outdated medical practices

        • From all those infected, today, 110 recovered from it whilst 132 died. The rest are still in the recovery process.

          How is it 4% ?? I believe we will see at least 10k deaths.

          Also, In a Recent Simulation, a Coronavirus Killed 65 Million People

          • -1

            @BrokenTissue: If you would like to be taken seriously, I recommend you to stop quoting figures based on these apparently ridiculous "simulations".

            • -1

              @berry580: Nonetheless his point about those cured is true. At this stage you are more likely to die from it than to fight it off. That's a massive concern.

              This could stay with us permanently if its not stamped out.

            • @berry580: Hi Berry,

              Thank you for your comment. I wasn't quoting anything, I just thought that this "simulation" was worth mentioning.

              If you read up on it, you will find that the team who conducted the mental exercise is not your average Joe. It is quite experienced, See the participants if anyone is interested. It takes into account the economic downturn of such events as well.

              Full videos

              The map, "Tracking the Wuhan Coronavirus"

        • your figures are not right. did you calculate the mortality rate of common flu yourself? from first available google search results which had a large data range? it's laughable.

          the official WHO figure of common flu mortality is about 1%, whereas this exact number for this corona-virus is about 2.4% so far. its real mortality is likely to be lower because of likely under-reporting of the infected population (people who isolate themselves at home and gets better themselves, just like common flu).

          so this is way way overblown so far.

          250,000 to 500,000 people die from common flu each year worldwide, and no one really gives a damn, coronavirus kills 200 people, suddenly it's the end of the world, give me a (profanity) break.

  • +5

    Chinese flu hysteria.

  • +25

    You don't know you are fine though.

  • +11

    Did came from WuTang province? If so yes, if no then no, China is massive country.

    • +8

      Wuhan City, in Hubei province.

      And about 5 million people exited the city between when the virus began spreading to when the quarantine was imposed.

      All that, in the lead up to Chinese New Year when everyone is travelling everywhere. I wouldn't worry too much (only young, old, and otherwise immuno-compromised people passing away so far) but there's nowhere in China that I'd say is safe.

      • Not to jump of the hysteria train, but the more people that get infected and spread it, the more likely it will mutate into something nastier, like a Spanish Flu that seemed to knock off the middle brackets, but then again people wouldn’t have been anywhere near as healthy back in the 20’s.

      • -1

        I wouldn't worry too much (only young, old, and otherwise immuno-compromised people passing away so far)

        So its fine if we have a bit of a cull then I guess?

    • +55

      Wu Tang province? Did they show signs of sudden rapping?

    • +28

      WUHAN CLAN AIN'T NOTHIN' TO (profanity) WIT

      • This

        RIP Ol' Dirty Bastard

      • +1

        You need to diversify your bonds,ni**a

        • +3

          You can't say ninja in the forum?

    • All province except Tibet has confirmed case,so yes or no?

      • +2

        So we ban everyone in VIC and NSW from going to work?

        • So everyone has been to China or close contact with Chinese that just arrive Australia?

          If not then why everyone is getting the ban?

    • +5

      If so ya best protect ya neck

    • Did they re-release their track C.R.E.A.M (Coronavirus Rules Everything Around Me)?

  • +7

    For what it's worth, I think there is more hysteria about this than anything, but it can help to consider the other view of your question, "is it ethical for someone who just came back from China to attend work given the level of fear that exists about the coronavirus?"

    • +1

      It's nothing to do with fear. It's NOT ethical to go to work.

  • +12

    I would be offended because I know that I am fine

    How would you know that? None of us really know that, and we wont know for a couple more weeks. sniffles

    • +2

      yea true, edited my statement.

  • +6

    no human to human transmissions have been recorded here in Australia yet. those 5 people that were affected have returned from travelling to Wuhan directly

    • +9

      Well..maybe not or maybe "not yet"

      • +2

        I just returned from hong kong and Taiwan which is part of china (debatable) just saying china is a huge country. Excluding someone just because they have been to china is absolutely ridiculous unless you know for certain that person has travelled to Wuhan or close to it.

        do you know if your friends colleague was traveller to this part of the world? or just a bunch of people think Wuhan is china?

        • +4

          do you know if your friends colleague was traveller to this part of the world? or just a bunch of people think Wuhan is china?

          I believe she's from Shanghai, that's why she was quite offended because she said in Shanghai everything was normal.

          BUt then again, I can also relate the suspicious from her peers. I mean, with the CNY celebration recently, people are travelling from all over China and the case started back in December 19 (correct me if i'm wrong).
          So, the hysteria is acceptable IMO

          • +2

            @Taro Milk Tea: i have a friend in shanghai.. he says the streets are quiet and hospitals are busy

            • @Archi: ok….She could be lying then.. Maybe she was talking about the situation few weeks ago, I have no idea.

              • +1

                @Taro Milk Tea: She should just happily take the free week off lol.

                • @kolorijo: well i don't know her at all lol, but from the story I heard, she left her office quite pissed and angry lol

                  • +5

                    @Taro Milk Tea: I’m in Shanghai but it’s empty as a result of CNY and most people LEAVE the city to be here. If she came back to Australia before 20th the probability she has it is next to nothing. Even if she came back yesterday it’s very very slim chance.

                    If she’s not getting paid regardless if she’s there or not that will be a serious work issue.

                    On a personal side, I know I would be suuuuuuuuper pissed and never see those people the same at all without a thorough apology.

                    • @ATangk: GET A GRIP.

                      The NSW State Government announced at the beginning of the week (28th JAN) that all employees that have traveled from China are not to come to work for 2 weeks.

                      You can work at home or you can take leave. There is no free holiday. If you don't have leave, bad luck.

                      • @snook: It was at the time just a request but not mandated by law as such similar quarantine practices occurring in and around China.

          • @Taro Milk Tea: If I remember correctly, the confirmed case in Germany occured due to exposure from his colleague who flew in from Shanghai. She was a champ though, she called up her German counterparts notifying them of the exposure once it was found that she has the virus.

            There are also reports suggesting that there has been a bit of a disinformation campaign from China and that the whole thing started earlier.. and the veracity of the story suggesting it came from the seafood market is now in question. There's a lot of different (and conflicting) info floating around right now.

            • -2

              @ThadtheChad: Never has this been so apt

              Chinese whispers

              My Asian friend said his Mum Chinese friend from China, Watsapp her that there were 8 cases in her Asian suburb.

        • +1

          Excluding someone just because they have been to china is absolutely ridiculous unless you know for certain that person has travelled to Wuhan or close to it.

          but it is in closer proximity than say European countries and do you blame them for taking extra precaution steps? we're talking about a disease that yet can be cured.

          • +6

            @tempura: i'm not discounting the severity of the disease, but people got to exercise common sense, due diligence, and educate them selves on what the threat is regardless of the situation is, whether that be corona virus, measles or anything.

            I got sent to me about an update on the virus and it spoke of some air quality sample been taken to analyse and got positive readings of corona virus in the air in areas like Cabramatta, Chatswood, paramatta and a few other places. All conducted by some agency called bureau of diseasology of parramatta, also warning people not to buy Chinese made product from that region. quick google revealed no such agency exists.

            you cant believe everything you read, whether that be news from western media or stuff that comes out of china.

            i'm always sceptical

            • +2

              @Archi: NSW Health issued a statement saying its fake. And confirmed there is no "bureau of diseasology of parramatta"

            • +2

              @Archi: While we don't know that much about how it transmits, the idea that any disease could be detectable in ambient air outside the immediate presence of infected people is pretty ridiculous. That's not even how the regular flu works. These things are spread by droplets when people sneeze or cough, which can then be breathed in if you are nearby, or stay on surfaces which other people might then touch, then touch their faces.

              It's why they say that washing your hands is more important that wearing a mask during flu season. Unless you are already sick, in which case you should wear a mask to prevent spreading it further.

              Where did you get that "update" from? Because it doesn't sound like news from anywhere, more like the kind of dumb racist attempt at making up lies I'd expect to see taped to telegraph poles.