THE Minister of Health has slammed the organisers of a huge Spanish tech show, which was cancelled due to coronavirus.


Salvador Illa and the World Health Organisation (WHO), condemned those
behind the Mobile World Congress, due to be held in Barcelona on 24-27
February.


Illa is angry that the event was axed over safety concerns due to the
newly named Covid-19 coronavirus.


In a statement by the show’s CEO John Hoffman, the convention was
scrapped after major exhibitors such as Nokia, Sony, Amazon, Ericsson
and Intel all backed out over health concerns.


However the WHO and leading figures in the Spanish government have
called the move out as ‘scaremongering’ and insisted that holding such
an event in Spain posed no threat to the general public.

John Hoffman
Mobile World Conference CEO John Hoffman during a press conference before the event


In a press conference held on Thursday, Illa made his stance very clear
to the Spanish media.


“There is no public health reason that is preventing holding this type
of event,” he said.


Despite this year’s MWC expecting nearly 20,000 visitors from the Asia
Pacific region, including 5,000 from China, most medical organisations
also explained that with the right procedures in place, the event would
have gone ahead with no issues.


Questioning the real motives of the cancellation, Spanish Deputy Prime
Minister Carmen Calvo also expressed her concerns surrounding the
decision.


“It’s not over any health alert in our country; we are in a very good
response situation,” she said.


So far in Spain, only two cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed,
both mild, and both isolated to the Canary and Balearic islands.


The organiser of the trade show, GSMA, has left numerous companies with
huge unpaid expenses too, by citing the cancellation as a ‘force
majeure’, meaning that it is not liable for any sort of compensation.


Barcelona has also been left reeling as the conference, held since 2006,
on average brings an income to the city of over €500 million, including
over 13,000 temporary jobs.


The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control [ECDC] explained
that although they made suggestions in their disease protocol that large
gatherings of people were not advised, it was down to individual
organisers to make their own decisions.


They did suggest though that against normal cancellation procedures, the
GSMA did not come to any agreement with public officials to cancel the
event.

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