TCL on Monday became the latest mobile phone company to change its plans for the MWC 2020 trade show amid worries about the coronavirus.
The Shenzhen, China-based company has canceled its Feb. 22 press conference at the Barcelona, Spain, show “out of an abundance of caution and care for our staff, customers, press and other guests,” it said. TCL, which makes Alcatel and, still will attend MWC, and the decision doesn’t change any of its other activities. It still plans to unveil its latest mobile devices and showcase them at its booth in the Fira Gran Via convention center in Barcelona.
Amazon, LG, Ericsson and Nvidia have withdrawn from the show, and ZTE also has canceled its press conference. Huawei and Oppo plan to quarantine their executives for 14 days before MWC starts, and Oppo will check the temperature of every person attending its events. Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone maker, plans to pare back its presence, people familiar with the matter said, and will send fewer executives from places like the US and Korea.
A pneumonia-like disease, the new coronavirus was discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan, capital of Hubei, in December. As of Sunday, the strain, dubbed 2019-nCoV, had infected more than 40,000 people and killed more than 900. It’s spread beyond China’s borders to around 30 countries, including the US, Japan and Australia. Two cases have been confirmed in Spain. Authorities around the world have begun limiting travel and enforcing quarantines to guard against the spread.
As a result, many major players in the mobile industry are reconsidering their attendance, according to people familiar with the internal discussions that companies are having. Some may pull out completely, the sources said, while others are planning to scale down their presence. For some companies, that could mean canceling travel by execs from places like Asia and the US and instead relying on European employees to staff their booths and events. Many are also planning to allow executives to decide if they want to travel to MWC or not.
MWC brings together companies from across the globe, with many using the trade show as the place to introduce their newest smartphones. This year is expected to feature new 5G phones from nearly every major Android vendor, as well as news about the networks using the new super-fast connectivity.
GSMA, the trade group that puts on the show, noted Thursday — before Ericsson, Nvidia and Amazon dropped out — that there’s “minimal impact on the event thus far” and that the event is proceeding as planned. “Spain, the City of Barcelona and the GSMA look forward to welcoming attendees to MWC Barcelona 2020,” the group said.
On Sunday, GSMA reiterated that it’s moving ahead with the event but is putting additional, stringent public health measures in place to reassure attendees and exhibitors that their health and safety are of “paramount concern.”
Those measures included banning any travelers from China’s Hubei province, where the coronavirus outbreak began, and requiring attendees who have passed through China to show proof they have been outside of the country for 14 days.
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