Softbank-backed Coupang under scrutiny after S.Korea warehouse virus outbreak

SEOUL (Reuters) – Deluged with online orders as the coronavirus epidemic swept South Korea, e-commerce giant Coupang opened a new groceries warehouse and logistics centre near Seoul in March, providing food and other essentials to shoppers sheltering at home.

FILE PHOTO: A delivery man for Coupang Jung Im-hong wearing a mask to prevent contracting the coronavirus, loads packages before leaving to deliver them in Incheon, South Korea, March 3, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

But health authorities and former workers say the company may have failed to follow measures to prevent infections at the facility, which is now at the centre of South Korea’s latest outbreak of the disease.

More than 100 cases linked to the Coupang facility have been recorded in less than a week, raising the spectre of a second wave of COVID-19 in a country praised for containing the first outbreak.

Coupang, backed by Japan’s SoftBank and dubbed the

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How South Korea turned an urban planning system into a virus tracking database

SEOUL (Reuters) – When a man in Seoul tested positive for the new coronavirus in May, South Korean authorities were able to confirm his wide-ranging movements in and outside the city in minutes, including five bars and clubs he visited on a recent night out.

FILE PHOTO: People in personal protective equipment walk up a flight of stairs as South Korean job seekers (background) attend an exam conducted outdoors amid social distancing measures to avoid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Seoul, South Korea, April 25, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

The fast response – well ahead of many other countries facing outbreaks – was the result of merging South Korea’s already advanced methods of collecting information and tracking the virus into a new data sharing system that patches together cellphone location data and credit card records.

The Epidemic Investigation Support System (EISS), introduced in late March, effectively removed

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Philippine lawmaker proposes tax targeting tech giants to fund virus fight

MANILA (Reuters) – A Philippine lawmaker has introduced a bill in parliament aimed at taxing big tech firms such as Facebook, Alphabet’s Google and Youtube, Netflix and Spotify, to raise funds to battle the coronavirus.

FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed Facebook logo is placed between small toy people figures in front of a keyboard in this illustration taken April 12, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The bill looks to raise 29 billion pesos ($571 million) by imposing a value added tax on digital services provided in the Philippines, a key growth area for e-commerce transactions as its people are among the world’s heaviest users of social media.

“We spent to fight COVID-19 and we need more to continue fighting it and recover,” Congressman Joey Salceda, the bill’s principal author, told Reuters.

“It sends a strong signal to the world that the Philippines is ready for the digital transformation. We are putting our

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Gap rushes in more robots to warehouses to solve virus disruption

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – U.S. apparel chain Gap Inc is speeding up its rollout of warehouse robots for assembling online orders so it can limit human contact during the coronavirus pandemic, the company told Reuters.

The Kindred SORT system uses artificial intelligence and Autograsp technology for its suction and gripper controls, seen here at Kindred’s facility in San Francisco, California, U.S., May 13, 2020. Gap Inc has accelerated its orders and implementation of the Kindred SORT system in its warehouses across the U.S. so it can limit human contact during the coronavirus pandemic. REUTERS/Nathan Frandino

Gap reached a deal early this year to more than triple the number of item-picking robots it uses to 106 by the fall. Then the pandemic struck North America, forcing the company to close all its stores in the region, including those of Banana Republic, Old Navy and other brands. Meanwhile, its warehouses faced more

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