Phone manufacturer ZTE has just pulled out of its press conference for Mobile World Congress (MWC) due to the knock-on effect of the Wuhan Coronavirus.
Hours after it’s announcement, LG withdrew from the show completely.
It's important to note that ZTE’s decision is not due to an employees having contracted the virus. Rather, it's due to secondary results of the virus such as travel and visa delays. The company has also implied that the xenophobia accompanying the virus has also played a role in the decision.
"[We] tend to be an overly courteous company, and simply don’t want to make people uncomfortable,” said a ZTE representative to The Verge.
The novel coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China continues to ripple around the world. More than 20,000 cases have been confirmed across Asia, Europe, North America, and Australia, and the official death toll of 425 has surpassed that of the 2002-03 SARS outbreak.
GSMA, the company that organises MWC also released a statement on Wednesday, saying that "MWC Barcelona 24-27 February 2020, will proceed as planned."
It also published a list of measures that it is taking to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
- Increased cleaning and disinfection programme across all high-volume touchpoints, e.g. catering areas, surfaces, handrails, WCs, entrances/exits, public touch-screens, etc. along with the use of correct cleaning/sanitising materials and products
- Increased onsite medical support
- Awareness campaign via online and onsite info-share and signage
- Availability of sanitising and disinfection materials for public use
- Awareness and training to all staff and associates on standard personal preventative measures, e.g. personal hygiene, frequency of use of sanitising/disinfection products, etc.
- Advice to exhibitors on implementing effective cleaning and disinfection of stands, offices along with guidance on personal hygiene measures and common preventive behaviour
- Public health guidelines and advice communication to Barcelona hotels, public and private transport, restaurants and catering outlets, retail, etc.
- Measures added this week include;
- Installing new signage onsite reminding attendees of hygiene recommendations
- Implementing a mic change protocol in production for speakers
- Communicating advice to all attendees to adopt a ‘no-handshake policy’
Update: LG has also confirmed its withdrawal from MWC 2020, stating:
“With the safety of its employees and general public foremost in mind, LG has decided to withdraw from exhibiting and participating in MWC 2020 later this month in Barcelona, Spain. This decision will prevent needlessly exposing hundreds of LG employees to international travel, which most health experts have advised.
In lieu of its participation in MWC, LG will be holding separate events in the near future to announce its 2020 mobile products.”
It seems like having two brands pull out of the show could have the potential to cause a domino effect.
Gizmodo has reached out to Oppo and Huawei to ascertain whether they, like ZTE, are considering pulling out of MWC due to reasons such as xenophobia.