The event due to take place in Barcelona later this month has seen a sharp drop in attendance due to the potential risk of infection caused by the coronavirus.
Normally the Mobile World Congress (MWC) attracts approximately 100,000 attendees, however, despite the drop-off in people coming and the threat posed by the virus, the organisers say the event will still go ahead.
So far NVIDIA, LG and Ericsson have already withdrawn from the conference, with Huawei and Samsung reportedly planning to send smaller delegations. With major tech firms like Amazon and Sony dropping out of the event, some have speculated that if other major exhibitors follow suite the event will be cancelled.
The coronavirus has now affected 40,637 cases, mainly in mainland China, with just two being recorded in Spain. 910 people have died of the virus so far.
One Twitter user wrote: “Just cancel Mobile World Congress this year. They’re not only risking 110,000 people possibly getting exposed to coronavirus, they’re also risking the city of Barcelona to be a new epicentre once all is said and done. Multiple major vendors already pulled out anyway.”
On its website, Sony released a statement, saying: “Sony has been closely monitoring the evolving situation following the novel coronavirus outbreak, which was declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization on January 30th, 2020.
“As we place the utmost importance on the safety and well-being of our customers, partners, media and employees, we have taken the difficult decision to withdraw from exhibiting and participating at MWC 2020 in Barcelona, Spain.”
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The event organisers, GSMA, confirmed that “large exhibitors have decided not to come to the show this year”, but it has put additional measures in place to “reassure attendees and exhibitors that their health and safety are our paramount concern”.
These measures include putting a ban on people travelling from the Hubei province and people who have recently visited China providing proof they have been outside the country for more than 14 days.
In a release the MWC said it will also introduce temperature screening and a no handshake policy. In addition, MWC staff will be provided with hygiene training and instruction in the use of disinfectant products.
Although there are currently over 3,500 confirmed cases of people having recovered from the virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) still deems it a global emergency and suggests measures are taken to stop the spread of the disease.