As top exhibitors pull out of MWC, organizers implement stringent safeguards

A couple of weeks out, Mobile World Congress organizer, the GSMA, has issued some fairly sweeping safeguards over growing concerns around the coronavirus. After a number of high profile back outs, including ZTE, LG, NVIDIA and Ericsson, the company issued a new list, including a ban of visitors originating from the Hubei province, whose capital Wuhan is believed to be the origin of the epidemic.

Per GSMA CEO John Hoffman,

  • All travelers from the Hubei province will not be permitted access to the event.

  • All travelers who have been in China will need to demonstrate proof they have been outside of China 14 days prior to the event (passport stamp, health certificate).

  • Temperature screening will be implemented.

  • Attendees will need to self-certify they have not been in contact with anyone infected.

More than 800 people have died from the virus, surpassing the 774 people who were killed by SARS circa 2002-2003. Hoffman adds that the organizer will be increasing a disinfectant program around the site and promoting a “no handshake policy.” As the organization notes, some 5,000-6,000 people from China attend the show each year, accounting for around 5-6 percent of visitors.

The GSMA is clearly interested in addressing concerns over the virus while limiting further attendee or exhibitor erosion. The release quotes Catalan health minister Alba Vergés, who notes, “The Catalan health system is prepared to detect and treat coronavirus, to give the most appropriate response, and this must be clear to those attending MWC Barcelona.”