Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson on Friday pulled out of international industry event GSMA Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2020 due to outbreak of novel coronavirus across several countries and continued spreading of the infection. The death toll in China's novel coronavirus epidemic has risen to 636 with 73 new mortalities reported, mostly from the worst-affected Hubei province, while the total number of confirmed cases has crossed 31,000.
"Following the outbreak and continued spreading of the novel coronavirus, Ericsson has closely monitored the development and adhered to recommendations from relevant national authorities and international bodies, such as the WHO. After an extensive internal risk assessment, Ericsson has decided to take further precautionary measures by withdrawing from MWC Barcelona 2020, the largest event in the telecom industry," Ericsson said in a statement.
The infection has spread to 25 countries, including in Spain, where the Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2020 is scheduled to start from February 24.
Ericsson is one of the leading telecom companies that participates in MWC at a significant scale.
"The health and safety of our employees, customers and other stakeholders are our highest priority. This is not a decision we have taken lightly. We were looking forward to showcasing our latest innovations at MWC in Barcelona. It is unfortunate but we strongly believe the most responsible business decision is to withdraw our participation from this year's event," Ericsson President and CEO Borje Ekholm said.
E-mail query sent to the GSM Association elicited no immediate reply.
"Ericsson appreciates that GSMA have done everything they can to control the risk. However, as one of the largest exhibitors, Ericsson has thousands of visitors in its hall each day and even if the risk is low, the company cannot guarantee the health and safety of its employees and visitors," Ericsson said.