MWC will take extra precautions due to coronavirus outbreak

29 Jan 2020

Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Image: PA Media

To mitigate the spread of coronavirus, Mobile World Congress will ask exhibitors and attendees to follow guidelines and protocols suggested by the World Health Organisation.

Mobile World Congress (MWC), the annual technology event in Barcelona that attracts more than 100,000 visitors, will go ahead with extra medical precautions in place amid the coronavirus outbreak, organisers have said.

The convention is often used by the likes of Samsung, Huawei, Sony and others to unveil new flagship smartphones and gadgets, and is one of the biggest events in the industry calendar.

It will take place between 24 and 27 February, with a number of visitors from countries affected by the virus – including many from China, where the outbreak is thought to have originated.

Assessing the potential impact

Organisers GSMA told the PA news agency it was “monitoring and assessing the potential impact of the coronavirus on MWC Barcelona 2020” and had a number of measures in place.

“The GSMA will carefully follow and adhere to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendations, all applicable Chinese government recommendations, all Spanish health authority recommendations and all police/health recommendations and protocols,” a spokesperson said.

“The upcoming MWC Barcelona event will proceed as planned, 24 to 27 February 2020, across all venues at Fira Gran Via and Fira Montjuic, including YoMo and Four Years From Now (4YFN). The GSMA confirms that there have been no registration impacts on MWC Barcelona thus far.

“We strongly urge exhibitors and attendees to implement appropriate guidelines and protocols as suggested by the WHO and other health authorities to contain and mitigate against any further spread of the virus.”

Organisers said it would also “provide additional medical personnel for on-site support in the run-up to and during the event” and work with its various venues in the city to “ensure sufficient sanitising products throughout all venues and implement other activity in line with recommendations from our city partners”.

Hubei lockdown

The Hubei province in China, where the outbreak is thought to have started, has been on lockdown for several days as China seeks to contain the illness, as have other parts of China.

Hong Kong also said on Tuesday it would “temporarily” close some of its borders with mainland China and stop issuing travel permits to mainland Chinese tourists.

More than 100 people have now died in the country, with confirmed infections surging to more than 4,500. The virus has spread across China and to at least 16 countries globally.

Huawei’s postponed conference

According to the official MWC website, more than 109,000 attendees from more than 190 countries are expected to travel to the convention next month.

The illness has already affected other parts of the technology industry – last week Chinese firm Huawei confirmed it was postponing its annual developer conference, which had been due to take place in Shenzhen in China in mid-February, until the end of March, because of the outbreak.

– PA Media