A growing number of firms have been encouraging greater use of telecommuting as they try to minimize the risks of employees contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus, bracing for a likely spread of the highly infectious novel disease in Japan.

Telecommunications giant NTT Group has decided to promote teleworking and off-peak commuting by 200,000 group employees in Japan starting Monday, a spokeswoman for the group said.

NTT Group notified subsidies, including NTT DoCoMo and NTT East and NTT West, of the policy on Friday, allowing each firm to set its own details for implementing the measure.