LG Pulls Out From Mobile World Congress Over Coronavirus Fears
(Photo by Joan Cros/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
The coronavirus outbreak has caused LG Electronics to withdraw from the upcoming Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, Spain.
“This decision removes the risk of exposing hundreds of LG employees to international travel, which has already become more restrictive as the virus continues to spread across borders,” the Korean vendor said on Tuesday.
The announcement is a big loss for the annual tech show, which will be held on Feb. 24 to the 27th. Many of the biggest electronics vendors use Mobile World Congress to build up buzz for their latest smartphones. The exhibits are also often full of people touching phones and other products. But this year, LG has decided to skip the marketing opportunity. “In lieu of its participation in MWC, LG will be holding separate events in the near future to announce its 2020 mobile products,” the company added.
Chinese vendor ZTE initially said it was canceling the company’s press conference for MWC, according to The Verge. But on Wednesday, ZTE announced it was still attending the tech show, where it plans to introduce new 5G mobile products. (The company’s device press conference, however, remains canceled.)
“ZTE will ensure that all employees from mainland China, including non-Chinese nationals, have no symptoms 2 weeks before departure and arrival in the MWC,” the company said. “Additional, at the current time all employees are required to undergo 2 weeks self-isolation to ensure the health and safety of all our staff.”
China has been ground zero for the new coronavirus, which has infected more than 20,000 people in the country and claimed 425 lives, according to the World Health Organization. The virus has also spread to 159 people based in 23 countries including the US and Spain. But despite the ongoing outbreak, the organizer of MWC, the GSMA, said on Tuesday the show will still go on, for now at least.
“The GSMA confirms that there is minimal impact on the event thus far. MWC Barcelona 24-27 February 2020, will proceed as planned,” the association said in a statement. To prevent the spread of illness, MWC staff are implementing an “increased cleaning and disinfection programme” to help keep the show’s venue free of germs. The GSMA also plans on making hand sanitizer and other disinfection materials available while also telling attendees to adopt a “no-handshake” policy.
Last year’s MWC, attracted more than 109,000 visitors from across the globe. Other big vendors slated to exhibit at the show include Samsung, Huawei, Lenovo, Nvidia and Google.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with ZTE’s latest statement on attending MWC.
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