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BT CEO to self-isolate after positive coronavirus test

BT CEO Philip Jansen will enter self-isolation for two weeks after contracting coronavirus, COVID-19.

Jansen will continue his work from the comforts of home, and while there is a message this will not disrupt operations, this is highly unlikely. BT is now running through the process of decontaminating the headquarters, as well as trying to figure out who Jansen has been in contact with over the last couple of days.

“Having felt slightly unwell I decided as a precaution to be tested. As soon as the test results were known I isolated myself at home,” said Jansen.

“I’ve met several industry partners this week so felt it was the responsible thing to do to alert them to this fact as soon as I could. Given my symptoms seem relatively mild, I will continue to lead BT but work with my team remotely over the coming week. There will be no disruption to the business.”

The immediate impact will of course be to the BT business, though the ripples of consequence could be felt throughout the UK telco sector, dependent of course on how much of a reaction there is.

Earlier this week, the CEOs of the four UK MNOs and Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Oliver Dowden all attended a meeting to sign the £1 billion Shared Rural Network agreement. Jansen’s positive coronavirus test adds some complications to other organisations now.

Three has confirmed that CEO Dave Dyson will be self-isolating and working remotely over the next two weeks, while Vodafone UK has sent the following statement:

“We can confirm that Nick Jeffery [Vodafone UK CEO] attended a meeting with Philip Jansen at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) to agree the Shared Rural Network. Although Nick feels completely fine, he has decided to self-isolate as a precaution. He will be using our remote working technology and network to continue to work from home.”

At the time of writing, O2 and DCMS were yet to respond to emails from Telecoms.com.

Ultimately, CEOs are potential superspreaders, individuals who is more likely to infect others. Not only do these executives meet a significant number of people each day, but they usually spend a significant amount of time with very important people also.

For example, we imagine Jansen has been spending a lot of time with CFO Simon Lowth and other members of the executive management team. A few positive tests could dramatically impact the ability for BT to run smoothly, though this will be the same for every major business.

UPDATE: 

O2 has confirmed that CEO Mark Evans will self-isolate as a precautionary measure

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Digital Infrastructure are following medical advice from Public Health England, and will not self-isolate or be tested


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