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Coronoavirus causes LG to pull out of MWC, sparking fears of ‘domino effect’

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South Korean firm LG has become the first major technology company to pull out of this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC) exhibition, citing concerns about the safety of its employees in the wake of the coronavirus.

The huge annual technology convention is due to take place in Barcelona at the end of this month and is one of the largest events in the industry calendar.

In 2019, the show attracted nearly 110,000 people from countries around the world, with Chinese nationals and others from the Asia Pacific region making up around 16 per cent of attendees.

LG said it has been closely monitoring the outbreak of the virus, which was recently declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The decision “removes the risk of exposing hundreds of LG employees to international travel which has already become more restrictive as the virus continues to spread across borders”.

In lieu of its participation in MWC, the firm will be holding separate events in the near future to announce its 2020 mobile products.

A number of other technology heavyweights, including Sony, Samsung, Huawei and Microsoft are still scheduled to appear at MWC.

Industry analyst Ben Wood, from CCS Insight, said LG’s decision was a “big development” for the show, adding that he hoped it would not cause a “domino effect with other companies”.

Last week, MWC organiser GSMA told the PA news agency it was monitoring the outbreak and would put additional medical precautions in place around its venues.

In an updated statement, GSMA said: “The GSMA continues to monitor and assess the potential impact of the coronavirus on its MWC20 events held annually in Barcelona, Shanghai and Los Angeles, as well as the Mobile 360 Series of regional conferences.”

They added that they are advising attendees to adopt a “no handshake policy” during the event.

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak continues to rise, with Chinese authorities reporting 490 dead and an increase in the number of known cases to 24,324.

Rumours are swirling that the virus could delay Apple’s production schedule for the next iPhone, which is manufactured in China by Foxconn.

The firm has suspended its operations temporarily, but said that it aims to gradually restart production at factories in China next week. A Reuters source “with direct knowledge of the matter” said it could take one to two weeks from then to resume full production.

The factory halt is set to hit Foxconn's profit for 2020, although it was still evaluating the likely impact, the source said.

Earlier this week, the deVere Group CEO said that Bitcoin’s soaring value is due to global uncertainty over the coronavirus.

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