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Crisis talks on fate of Spain mobile fair over virus fears

AFP  |  Madrid 

Organisers of the World Mobile Congress were holding urgent talks Wednesday over the fate of the world's top mobile fair after a string of industry heavyweights withdrew over coronavirus fears, a source close to the meeting said.

"We're leaning towards a cancellation. It should be announced later in the day," the source told AFP.

The GSMA, the mobile trade association which organises the annual show, had originally been due to convene a meeting of its members on Friday to discuss whether or not to cancel the event, which this year runs from February 24-27.

But the date was brought forward as an increasing number of industry heavyweights pulled out.

Just hours before the meeting, the latest big names to drop out were Vodafone, Nokia, Deutsche Telekom, Britain's BT and Rakuten of Japan, following in the footsteps of Intel, Facebook, Cisco and China's Vivo.

Organisers refused to comment on the emergency talks, issuing a statement saying the spread of the virus was "a fast-changing situation which GSMA is monitoring closely".

"This includes regularly meeting with global and Spanish health experts -- as well as our partners -- to ensure the wellbeing of attendees," it said.

"We have already implemented additional health measures ahead of MWC 2020 and will continue to seek expert medical advice on a frequent basis."

The annual Barcelona-based congress normally draws more than 100,000 people, but this year, participation has been hit by the outbreak of a deadly new coronavirus.

So far, the COVID-19 virus has claimed more than 1,100 lives with another 44,600 infected, the vast majority in China, with the World Health Organisation warning it poses a "very grave threat".

The GSMA's board includes representatives of some 25 operators in the mobile industry, among them companies like Orange, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Verizon and NTT Docomo.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 12 2020. 19:52 IST