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Concerns surrounding MWC grow as cancellations due to coronavirus continue

Amazon and Sony follow footsteps of LG, Nvidia and Ericsson while fair puts new safety measures in place


10 February 2020 11:25 AM


ACN | Barcelona

Concerns surrounding the Mobile World Congress (MWC) have grown in the past few days as some big firms have already pulled out due to the outbreak of coronavirus

The world's top mobile industry fair is due to be held in Barcelona from February 24 to February 27, that is, in two weeks, and even though its organizers confirmed once again on Sunday night that the event will go ahead, there are fears of more companies cancelling their participation in the coming days. 

Sony takes "difficult decision"

Sony pulled out on Monday morning, saying it was a "difficult decision" and that they will present their new products through their YouTube channel. 

"As we place the utmost importance on the safety and wellbeing of our customers, partners, media and employees, we have taken the difficult decision to withdraw from exhibiting and participating at MWC 2020," an official statement read. 

Their decision came soon after that of Nvidia and Amazon over the weekend, also citing public health risks

The three followed the footsteps of LG and Ericsson, the first companies to withdraw from the fair last week.

Chinese people will have to be abroad 14 days prior

Yet, MWC, which hosted 109,000 people over four days last year of which between 5,000 and 6,000 came from China, is still taking place according to its organizer, GSMA. 

"While the GSMA confirm some large exhibitors have decided not to come to the show this year with others still contemplating next steps, we remain more than 2,800 exhibitors strong," read a statement from the host published on Sunday night. 

The same text informed of enhanced safety measures, such as a ban on travelers from the Hubai province, in China. Also, "all travelers who have been in China will need to demonstrate proof they have been outside of China 14 days prior to the event (passport stamp, health certificate)." 

According to GSMA, temperature screening will be implemented, and attendees will need to "self-certify" they have not been in contact with anyone infected with the virus. 

These measures join others previously announced, such as a "cleaning and disinfection programme" in places such as catering areas, handrails and WCs, alongside advising attendees not to shake hands. 

Catalan authorities: "No objective reason not to come"

The Catalan authorities are also making efforts to calm exhibitors and everyone involved in the fair. 

"There is no objective reason not to come," said health minister Alba Vergés on Friday. 

According to her, the Catalan health system "is absolutely prepared to both identify and treat" a potential coronavirus case. 

"There is nothing more contagious than fear. They can be afraid, but fear needs to be rational and we need to see what the situation is at home, where [an infection for] coronavirus has a very low probability," added Doctor Antoni Trilla, the head of epidemiology at Hospital Clínic, in Barcelona.