Eastman assessing products at Chinese plants in response to coronavirus outbreak

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – Eastman Chemical Company officials say the company is “closely monitoring” developments of the coronavirus and have restricted business travel to its Chinese plants.

According to Eastman’s website, the company operates a manufacturing site in Wuhan, China, where the first case of the new coronavirus strain was recorded last month.

Read more: Local experts on alert for coronavirus, no panic yet

On Thursday, the World Health Organization declared the virus a public health emergency as the worldwide tally nears 8,000 confirmed cases.

About 7,736 of those cases are in China. Of those, 1,370 are considered “severe.” There have been 170 deaths in China from the virus. The WHO estimates there are more than 12,000 suspected cases of the coronavirus.

Eastman’s plant in Wuhan is one of 10 manufacturing sites the company operates in China.

A spokesperson for the company said that inventory at its Chinese plants is being assessed for potential risk of product supply.

Eastman creates agents for the manufacture of various agents used in adhesives, sealants, flooring, coatings and inks at its site in Wuhan.

“At the moment we have not identified any major risk of supply and continue to closely monitor the situation,” a statement from the company said.

Chinese authorities have suspended air and rail travel in and around Wuhan, and the US. Department of State ordered all non-emergency U.S. personnel and their families to depart from the city last week.

More: First U.S. case of human-to-human transfer of coronavirus confirmed in Chicago

Shipments in and out of other parts of the region haven’t been impacted, according to Eastman’s statement, but leaders with the company continue to monitor transportation restrictions.

In addition to implementing company-wide travel restrictions, Eastman is also putting employees on self-quarantine who may have traveled or have been in contact with someone who has traveled to the Hubei Province “in the last few weeks.”

Affected employees have the opportunity to work from home for two weeks, extending to all employees working in any of the company’s locations in the Asia Pacific Region.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the virus spreads through person-to-person contact, but there is still “much more to learn” about the transmissibility of the new strain.

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