The novel coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 20,000 people, killed hundreds, and has put millions of people in China under quarantine is increasingly affecting travel not just within, but into and out of the country. Nearby countries are handling cases and deaths of their own. All of this could throw a wrench into the Mobile World Congress as the trade show is set to begin in Barcelona on February 24. Two major participants, LG and ZTE, have announced that they won't be there.
VentureBeat reports specifically that China-based ZTE is canceling its press conference at MWC on February 25. It was expected to debut its 2020 flagship smartphone, the 5G-capable Axon 10s Pro, and demonstrate its own 5G infrastructure at the event. At the moment, though, the company is still due to exhibit on the show floor and is scheduled to co-host a 5G panel.
This afternoon, however, LG announced that it has canceled all of its Barcelona plans out of consideration for the health of employees as it continues to monitor the outbreak.
The GSM Association, which runs three annual conventions under the MWC umbrella, says it expects to proceed ahead with its Barcelona show and has outlined extra measures it is taking to protect attendees — including more medical staff, a no-handshake policy, and a microphone switching protocol for speakers — and has suggested that visitors prepare for a potential self-quarantine as necessary.
Plenty of Chinese vendors may also need to vacate or have already vacated their stall reservations as the virus is expected to reach its peak influence towards the end of April or early May.
ZTE will attend after all
ZTE has confirmed that it attend MWC after all. In a statement posted on Twitter, the company explained that its MWC plans haven't changed and shared the measures it's taking to ensure the safety of everyone, including self isolation for two weeks for anyone coming from mainland China, daily disinfection of its stand and equipment, and making sure that booth presentation personnel is coming from other countries than China.
#ZTE will participate in #MWC20 Barcelona as planned, showcasing comprehensive #5G end-to-end solutions and a wide variety of 5G devices. ZTE's booth is in 3F30, Hall 3, FIRA GRAN VIA. pic.twitter.com/vB9S4IpyZP
— ZTE Corporation (@ZTEPress) February 5, 2020