Samsung reportedly scales back MWC presence over coronavirus fears

Organizers of the world's biggest mobile technology fair are pulling the plug over worries about the viral outbreak from China.

"We're leaning towards a cancellation".

GSMA said Wednesday that this year's edition of Mobile World Congress will no longer be held as planned in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb 24-27.

Here's an excerpt from the Finnish company's official statement: "MWC Barcelona has always been a key event in our annual calendar and we were very excited to showcase our new products to our partners, customers, media and fans".

The GSM Association took this decision after a video conference meeting with 26 mobile network representatives, including big names like Verizon, Vodafone, Telefonica, and Deutsche Telekom.

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".

The CEO said that travel and managing the event would be hard at a time of global health emergency.

Although most of the confirmed infections - 44,687 at the time of writing - are in mainland China, 28 countries now have reported cases, and with more than 100,000 worldwide attendees expected to descend on MWC this year, including over 6000 from China, many tech companies felt it would irresponsible to send their staff to the event.

Since its outbreak late previous year, the coronavirus has spread beyond China's borders to more than two dozen countries. The company said "the health and well-being of employees was a primary focus" and that canceling its involvement was a "prudent decision".

South Korea's LG Electronics, China's Vivo, and Japan's Sony and wireless carrier NTT Docomo had also dropped out of the show prior to the announcement.

China's top smartphone manufacturer Huawei as well as its smaller rival ZTE, said their plans were unchanged, but pledged their executives and staff would first undergo a self-imposed two-week quarantine period, while ZTE said its stand and equipment would be disinfected daily.

The World Health Organisation, the United Nations agency leading the coronavirus crisis response, also urged calm. On February 12, 2020, there were 45,171 confirmed cases of the virus around the world, according to a WHO report.

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