Chinese tourists wearing masks use smartphones in the Ginza shopping district on January 24, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.
  • LG Electronics has cancelled its plans to attend Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the biggest smartphone show in the world, due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Chinese smartphone manufacturer ZTE has cancelled its press conference due to the outbreak, but has said it's still attending MWC but taking precautions which include sanitising its booth daily.
  • Huawei has yet to release a statement on whether it's altering its plans, but a spokesman said its considering all its options.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

The world's biggest smartphone show is taking a hit from the coronavirus outbreak as two big smartphone manufacturers cancel their plans to attend.

South Korea-based LG Electronics released a statement on Tuesday saying it wouldn't be participating in Mobile World Congress (MWC), scheduled to take place in Barcelona at the end of this month.

"With the safety of its employees, partners and customers foremost in mind, LG has decided to withdraw from exhibiting and participating in MWC 2020 [...] This 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," the company said.

South Korea has seen 18 confirmed cases of coronavirus according to the Straits Times, and overall the virus has spread to 25 countries outside China, where it first began.

The two biggest Chinese smartphone manufacturers Huawei and ZTE are still planning to attend MWC, although a ZTE spokesperson told the Verge the company will be cancelling its press conference. The spokesperson said the virus outbreak had made it difficult logistically for some of its employees to travel. "[We] tend to be an overly courteous company, and simply don't want to make people uncomfortable," they added.

In a press statement published on Tuesday, ZTE outlined the precautions it's taking to prevent its representatives from transporting the virus, which include: sanitising its exhibition stand daily, flying high-level executives to Europe two weeks early so they can "self-isolate themselves," and ensuring none of its booth staff are from mainland China.

Huawei has not yet released an official statement on whether it's changing its MWC plans. A spokesman told Bloomberg the company is considering its options, from leaving its plans unchanged up to cancelling its attendance altogether.

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