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ZTE will skip Mobile World Congress press conference due to coronavirus outbreak

ZTE has decided to skip its Mobile World Congress press conference this year due to the coronavirus outbreak in its home country of China. To be clear, ZTE saysthe cancellation was triggered by the secondary effects of the outbreak — not because of employees having contracted it themselves.

For example, the virus has made it harder to get visas and make travel arrangements. ZTE also says that it tends “to be an overly courteous company, and simply doesn’t want to make people uncomfortable,” according to a ZTE spokesperson in an interview with The Verge. It’s currently unclear if it’s only the ZTE press conference that’s canceled, or ZTE’s presence at the show in general.

Apart from ZTE’s cancellation, the rest of the show looks to be full steam ahead. Industry organization GSMA, which runs the MWC event, has announced a series of measures intended to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading. According to the GSMA’s statement, there will be increased cleaning on site, including all “high-volume touchpoints” like handrails, door handles, and so on. On top of that, there will be better medical support at the event.

Coronavirus has already killed more than 400 people and infected approximately 20,000. As a result of the outbreak, many airlines have suspended their flights to and from the region, and some companies have even temporarily shut down their offices. Some tech companies are fighting to stop the spread of the virus too. Uber, for example, suspended the accounts of 240 riders who used Uber vehicles in Mexico that carried someone who was suspected to be infected with the virus. The company says it’s taking similar approaches in countries like Australia, where there there are currently 13 confirmed cases.

Huawei postponed an event of its own due to safety precautions related to the virus. The Huawei event was set to take place on February 11 and 12, however it has now been pushed until March 27 and 28.

Mobile World Congress is set to take place from February 24 to February 27 in Barcelona. The event is the biggest mobile event in the world, though in recent years, some major smartphone manufacturers, like Samsung, have chosen to hold their own events to announce their biggest phones, rather than launch at MWC.

ZTE previously announced that its MWC 2020 press conference would be where it showcases new 5G terminal devices and “leading 5G innovative technologies.” It’s unclear when the company will announce new products that were supposed to be unveiled at the show. We’ve reached out to ZTE for comment and will update this story when we hear back.

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