Monday, 10 February 2020 12:56

Coronavirus outbreak prompts restrictions by GSMA on Chinese attendance at MWC Barcelona Featured

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Chinese visitors from China’s Hubei province will not be able to attend the GSMA MWC Barcelona event to be held in Barcelona later this month due to restrictions on access now imposed by the GSMA due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

And the GSMA - the global mobile industry body - has also said that all travellers who have been in China will need to demonstrate proof (passport stamp, health certificate) they have been outside of China 14 days prior to the event.

The GSMA says it will implement temperature screening at the event and attendees will need to self-certify they have not been in contact with anyone infected.

The GSMA says that while further planning is underway, it will continue to monitor the situation and will adapt its plans according to developments and advice it receives. “We are contending with a constantly evolving situation, that will require fast adaptability,” the GSMA said on Monday.

“The GSMA knows that the Coronavirus has created disruption, in particular for exhibitors and attendees from around the world, including the 5-6,000 (5-6%) who have historically attended from China. Our sympathy goes to all those affected,” the GSMA noted.

“We are grateful for the preventative measures our Chinese exhibitors have put in place, notably ZTE and Huawei. Today, the GSMA is moving ahead as planned and will host MWC Barcelona 24-27 February 2020. While the GSMA confirm some large exhibitors have decided not to come to the show this year with others still contemplating next steps, we remain more than 2,800 exhibitors strong.”

“In addition to all of the health and safety measures put in place, the Spanish health authorities, Host City Partners, other relevant agencies and the GSMA are collaborating.”

The GSMA says that measures being implemented include:

  • Increased cleaning and disinfection programme across all high-volume touchpoints, e.g. catering areas, surfaces, handrails, WCs, entrances/exits, public touch-screens, etc. along with the use of correct cleaning/sanitising materials and products
  • Increased onsite medical support – doubled over last year
  • Awareness campaign via online and onsite info-share and signage
  • Availability of sanitising and disinfection materials for public use
  • Awareness and training to all staff on standard personal preventative measures, e.g. personal hygiene, frequency of use of sanitising/disinfection products, etc.
  • Advice to exhibitors on implementing effective cleaning and disinfection of stands, offices along with guidance on personal hygiene measures and common preventive behaviour
  • Public health guidelines and advice communication to Barcelona hotels, public and private transport, restaurants and catering outlets, retail, etc.
  • Installing new signage onsite reminding attendees of hygiene recommendations
  • Implementing a microphone disinfecting and change protocol for all speakers
  • Communicating advice to all attendees to adopt a ‘no-handshake policy’
  • A 24-hour telephone Security and Medical service for all attendees, operational from 12th to 29th February 2020. This number appears on the back of badge holders, in the event App and on signage around the venue.

“We understand that in a press conference on Friday 7 February Health Minister Alba Vergés explained that the region of Catalonia is not a public health risk zone,” the GSMA said.

“The Health Minister stated “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,” said Vergés.

“In a similar vein, the Secretary of Public Health, Joan Guix, noted that Catalonia is used to continually welcoming thousands of visitors to the region and reiterated his confidence in the regions readiness and responsiveness. Guix outlined the measures that the Public Health Agency of Catalonia had put in place and that the Spanish Ministry of Health was in constant communication with all relevant bodies. These include the Directorate General of Tourism and Hotels, both public and private health centres, the Chinese consulate and with the GSMA.

“Finally, the head of the Service of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology of the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, Antoni Trilla, emphasised that “we are not in an exceptional situation and our health system is ready”.

The GSMA said on Monday it strongly urges exhibitors and attendees to implement appropriate guidelines and protocols as suggested by the WHO and other health authorities to contain and mitigate against any further spread of the virus. “The health and safety of our exhibitors, attendees and staff are of paramount importance,” the GSMA said.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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