Uber says it may temporarily suspend both drivers and passengers who have been infected or come into contact with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The company has established a 24-hour support team to work with public health officials as the outbreak evolves.
"Working with them, we may temporarily suspend the accounts of riders or drivers confirmed to have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19," the company says on its coronavirus support page. "We're also consulting with an epidemiologist to make sure our efforts as a company are grounded in medical advice."
Uber announced late last week it would compensate drivers who miss work due to the coronavirus for up to 14 days. "We've already helped drivers in some affected areas, and we're working to quickly implement this worldwide," the company says. Lyft also announced it would provide financial assistance to drivers. However, neither company has detailed how much they'll compensate people.
Additionally, Uber notes it will provide free disinfectants to drivers in cities "with the greatest need." The company warns supplies are "very limited," but says it's working with manufacturers to source supplies directly. If you use Uber Eats to order food, you can note in the app if you want the delivery person to leave your food at the door to your home.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US passed 1,000 on Tuesday night. According to The New York Times, at least 31 people have died from the disease. Uber has already suspended drivers in the UK and the US for coming into contact with the virus.
While the measures Uber is putting in place make sense, they won't necessarily prevent the spread of the coronavirus. At the moment, the company doesn't have a good way to monitor drivers and prevent them from spreading the virus. The precarious nature of ridesharing also means some people may take health risks because they need to meet their financial obligations.