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MWC 2020 cancelled as Barcelona bows to coronavirus concerns

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MWC won't be taking place this year after all (GSMA)
MWC won’t be taking place this year after all (GSMA)

The biggest tech event in Europe has been cancelled this year due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Mobile World Congress (MWC) usually takes place every February in Barcelona and brings together over 100,000 attendees to showcase all aspects of mobile technology.

However, the spread of coronavirus has caused many companies – including the likes of Sony and Amazon – to pull out of the show. Now the organisation in charge of the show has decided to cancel it altogether.

‘With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,’ explained John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA Limited.

The announcement followed a crisis meeting of the GSMA board, after its hand was forced by the pullout of anchor European members including Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, BT and Nokia.

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Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau said earlier she wanted to send a ‘message of calm’, insisting the city was ready to host the event, while Spanish health officials reiterated that there was no reason to call off MWC.

SamsungSHANGHAI, CHINA - JUNE 26: People visit the Nokia booth on day one of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2019 at the Shanghai New International Expo Center on June 26, 2019 in Shanghai, China. The Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2019 themed on 'Intelligent Connectivity' will last for three days. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
MWC is Europe’s biggest tech trade event (VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

MORE: Real-time map shows spread of coronavirus as it happens

The World Health Organisation, a UN agency leading the coronavirus crisis response, had also called in vain for calm.

‘There is no evidence at present to suggest that there is community spread outside China, so WHO is not currently requesting that large gatherings are cancelled,’ WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told Reuters in Geneva.

That failed, however, to alleviate concerns among major exhibitors that the precautions would be insufficient to halt the virus that has spread beyond China’s borders to two dozen countries.

‘To bring people together and connect them: That is what Telekom stands for. This is also what the Mobile World Congress, the ‘class reunion’ of our industry, stands for,’ Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hoettges posted on LinkedIn.

Attendees walk to enter at the Mobile World Congress wireless show, in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. The annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) runs from 25-28 February in Barcelona, where companies from all over the world gather to share new products. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Attendees walk to enter Mobile World Congress in 2019 (AP)

He added, however, that large gatherings of people with many international guests posed a particular risk: ‘To take this risk would be irresponsible.’

The Chinese contingent at MWC has numbered 5,000-6,000 in recent years, making the event particularly vulnerable given the outbreak of the virus that has killed more than 1,100 people on the Chinese mainland.

In its statement, the GSMA said the host cities and partners respected and understood its decision, adding that they would ‘continue to be working in unison’ towards staging next year’s event.

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Source: Metro News

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Simple handwashing technique can limit the spread of coronavirus, scientists reveal

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Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport in London after the last British Airways flight from China touched down in the UK following an announcement that the airline was suspending all flights to and from mainland China with immediate effect amid the escalating coronavirus crisis. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday January 29, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport in London after the last British Airways flight from China touched down in the UK following an announcement that the airline was suspending all flights from the country (Image: Steven Parsons/ PA)

Scientists have said that simple handwashing techniques could drastically limit the spread of coronavirus.

Health chiefs are trying to stop the feared disease becoming a pandemic and fear it could kill tens of millions of people.

Now researcher have claimed that ‘traveller engagement with proper hand-hygiene at all airports has the potential to reduce the risk of a potential pandemic by 24-69%’.

What this means is that people jetting off around the world should wash their hands and also use sanitiser products.

If these ‘mitigation strategies’ are implemented in ten key locations the pandemic risk can drop by up to 37%, the authors added.

The study, “Hand-hygiene mitigation strategies against global disease spreading through the air transportation network,” suggests that if increased hand-washing practices were instituted in ten key aiports including London’s Heathrow there would be a significant impact on decreasing the spread of viruses.

These ten airports ‘are not just locations that see large volumes of passengers, they also connect travelers with destinations in all parts of the world’.

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‘Airports, and airplanes, are highly infectious because they are close, confined areas with large, mobile populations,’ said Christos Nicolaides of the University of Cyprus and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

‘Viruses are spread through bodily fluids, so keeping hands clean at major transport hubs is central to control spread.’

Airports contain numerous surfaces that are frequently touched by travellers, including self-service check-in screens, gate bench armrests, water fountain buttons, door handles, seats and tray tables.

These public areas need to be cleaned regularly, whilst travellers should wash their hands, make sure they wear face masks and follow good coughing eqituwtte by only coughing into their elbow or tissues.

The researchers said that if hand cleanliness at all airports increased from 20% to 30%, the disease would have a global impact that is 24% smaller.

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World’s oldest man, 112, says secret is to keep on smiling

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112-year-old Chitetsu Watanabe poses next to the calligraphy reading 'World's Number One' after being awarded as the world's oldest living male by Guinness World Records, in Joetsu, Niigata prefecture, northern Japan February 12, 2020, in this photo released by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT.
Sitting next to a sign saying ‘world’s number one’, Chitetsu Watanabe is almost 112 (Picture: Reuters)

A Japanese man with a sweet tooth who believes in smiles has become the world’s oldest male at 112 years and 344 days old, according to Guinness World Records.

Chitetsu Watanabe, who was born in Niigata in northern Japan in 1907, received a certificate for his accomplishment on Wednesday at a nursing home in the city. The previous record holder, Masazo Nonaka, another Japanese, died last month. The oldest living person is also Japanese, Kane Tanaka, a 117-year-old woman.

Until about a decade ago, Watanabe used to do bonsai, the Japanese traditional art of raising small sculpted trees, and had his work exhibited. These days, he loves desserts such as custards and cream puffs, Guinness said.

Watanabe graduated from agricultural school and then moved to Taiwan to work at Dai-Nippon Meiji Sugar on sugar cane plantation contracts.

112-year-old Chitetsu Watanabe celebrates after being awarded as the world's oldest living male by Guinness World Records, in Joetsu, Niigata prefecture, northern Japan February 12, 2020, in this photo released by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT.
He revealed that he has a sweet tooth and likes custards and cream puffs (Picture: Reuters)

He lived in Taiwan for 18 years. He married Mitsue and they had five children, Guinness said in a statement.

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After the end of World War II, Watanabe returned to Niigata and worked for the prefectural government until retirement. He also grew fruit and vegetables on the family farm.

Asked about the secret to longevity, Watanabe has this advice: Don’t get angry and keep smiling.

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Boris Johnson vows to bring through ‘new generation’ in reshuffle

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Boris Johnson is wielding the knife in his first major reshuffle since the election triumph today – as he vows to bring through a new generation of Tories.

The PM is summoning nervous ministers to his Commons office as the overhaul of his top team gets under way.

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith and Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom have arrived at parliament – and are thought to be receiving bad news. 

Mrs Leadsom ignored questions from waiting reporters this morning, while Mr Smith sounded a negative tone by saying: ‘We’ve done a lot of really good stuff. There’s a lot more to do but it’s up to the PM.’ 

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg tried to deflect enquiries about his future by chatting blithely about the weather as he left his London home – although he is thought to be safe despite a backlash over comments about Grenfell during the election campaign.  

The threats of a huge bloodletting seem to have faded, but a number of senior figures are in the firing line. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has been scrambling to avoid the sack, and Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers appears doomed.

Mr Johnson is expected to hand promotions to women as he gears up for four years of government after the election victory. 

There are rumours that Anne-Marie Trevelyan could replace her current boss Mr Wallace, and Victoria Atkins has also been tipped to climb the ladder.

Oliver Dowden is the hot favourite to take over as Culture Secretary from Baroness Morgan, who is standing down to spend more time with her family.

Rising star Lucy Frazer could also become Attorney General if whispers about Geoffrey Cox being axed come to pass. 

Penny Mordaunt, sacked by Mr Johnson after being a cheerleader for his Tory leadership rival Jeremy Hunt last year, could make a shock return. 

And MPs believe Steve Barclay, whose Cabinet job was abruptly abolished along with the Brexit department when the UK left the EU last month, will make a comeback. 

Boris Johnson is summoning nervous ministers to his Commons office as the overhaul of his top team gets under way

Boris Johnson is summoning nervous ministers to his Commons office as the overhaul of his top team gets under way

Boris Johnson is summoning nervous ministers to his Commons office as the overhaul of his top team gets under way

Julian Smith

Julian Smith

Andrea Leadsom

Andrea Leadsom

Andrea Leadsom ignored questions from waiting reporters this morning (right), while Julian Smith (left) sounded a negative tone by saying: ‘We’ve done a lot of really good stuff. There’s a lot more to do but it’s up to the PM.’

Jacob Rees-Mogg tried to deflect questions from reporters about his future by chatting about the weather as he left his London home - although he is thought to be safe

Jacob Rees-Mogg tried to deflect questions from reporters about his future by chatting about the weather as he left his London home - although he is thought to be safe

Jacob Rees-Mogg tried to deflect questions from reporters about his future by chatting about the weather as he left his London home – although he is thought to be safe

Bad news is being handed out to ministers behind closed doors this morning, with the PM holding one-to-one meetings.

The winners from the shake-up will then walk into Cabinet in the full glare of cameras. No10 hopes the Cabinet line-up will be largely complete by this afternoon.

The PM’s maverick aide Dominic Cummings had initially wanted to slash the size of the Cabinet and axe a series of Whitehall departments. 

But his advice appears to have been rejected for now, with ministers saying there is little sign of big changes to the machinery of government. However, one current Cabinet minister cautioned that ‘you never know what they are dreaming up in secret’.  

Speaking at a Nato meeting in Brussels yesterday, Mr Wallace admitted reshuffles could be ‘brutal’ but said he hoped his military experience and the fact he is a northern MP would help keep him in post.

Mr Wallace will not attend the Munich Security Conference tomorrow. 

But one Whitehall source dismissed speculation this meant he was going to be sacked, saying: ‘Quite the opposite.’ 

Reports last month suggested the PM was willing to jettison as many as six female Cabinet ministers. However, he appears to have backed away to avoid allegations of sexism. 

A Government source said the PM was aiming to have a ’50/50 gender balance’ among the 26 most junior ministerial positions.

Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan is standing down and both Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom and Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey appear vulnerable.  

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a junior defence minister, will be promoted to the Cabinet as the Prime Minister tries to maintain the number of women at the top table

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a junior defence minister, will be promoted to the Cabinet as the Prime Minister tries to maintain the number of women at the top table

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a junior defence minister, will be promoted to the Cabinet as the Prime Minister tries to maintain the number of women at the top table

Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan is standing down to spend more time with her family

Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan is standing down to spend more time with her family

Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan is standing down to spend more time with her family

Former ministers Maria Miller and Penny Mordaunt have been tipped for recalls while International Development Secretary Alok Sharma is set for promotion. 

Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden will also get a full Cabinet post. 

Former Brexit minister Suella Braverman will return to Government, as will Remainer Gillian Keegan. 

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