The association behind the world’s biggest gathering of mobile tech professionals, in Barcelona, will ask attendees to observe a ‘no-handshake policy’ to help contain the spread of coronavirus.
The GSM Association (GSMA), which organises Mobile World Congress, said the outbreak had so far had 'minimal impact on the event’, which attracts more than 100,000 delegates.
However Korean tech firm LG has already pulled out of the mega-meeting, which is due to take place 24-27 February, at Fira Barcelona, and there are fears other tech providers may follow.
China's ZTE has also dropped plans for a press conference at the event due to the illness, but it will still host a stand
This week GSMA announced it would install signage at the event encouraging attendees to adhere to hygiene recommendations and follow a 'no-handshake policy'. It would also be implementing a 'microphone change protocol' for speakers and presenters.
In a statement GSMA said: 'The GSMA confirms that there is minimal impact on the event thus far. MWC Barcelona will proceed as planned. GSMA colleagues around the world are taking strong measures to contain and lessen any further spread of the virus.
“These measures include adhering to advice from the WHO and other health authorities, respecting travel restrictions where they exist, arriving early in Spain to allow time for self-quarantine and ensuring access to masks.”
GSMA has so far not made any specific announcement on its Shanghai Mobile World Congress, which is scheduled to take place in June, other than that it 'continues to monitor and assess the potential impact of the coronavirus on its MWC20 events'.
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which the Chinese authorities are reporting has claimed almost 500 lives, continues to cause disruption right across the international meetings industry.
Professional congress organisers (PCOs) are proving a useful bellweather for the situation on the ground.
Kristofer Herlitz, managing director of congress organiser AIM Group’s New York office, said the ISAC – CYTO Asia 2020 congress, scheduled for September in Shanghai, was locked in a ‘holding pattern’, ‘as they look at the day to day situation based on the news that comes out of China.’
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“They (the International Society for Advancement of Cytometry) understand they may have to postpone the meeting but that decision has not yet been made. In the interim we continue to market the exhibits and sponsorships but only more slowly now until we have more details.”
He added: “As for the large USCAP 109th Annual Meeting (United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology) we have coming up in Los Angeles we expect some exhibitors to cancel their booths, two already have, and the projected 100 or so attendees from China will surely cancel as well, out of total attendance of 5,000, because they cannot enter the US.”
AMI editor James
Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international
association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation
for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk,
read, listen to music, and drink beer.