On 3 February official Chinese figures said there had now been 17,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country. There have been 361 deaths in China and one in the Philippines.
Although China has suspended large events and locked down internal travel, the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying has hit out at tough US counter-measures, saying US actions “could only create and spread fear”.
The Chinese government accusation comes after the US declared a public health emergency on 31 January, saying it would deny entry to foreign nationals who had visited China in the past two weeks.
The US was the first country to impose a travel ban on Chinese travellers and the first to suggest a partial withdrawal of its embassy staff.
“It is precisely developed countries like the US with strong epidemic prevention capabilities… that have taken the lead in imposing excessive restrictions contrary to WHO recommendations,” Hua Chunying said, according to a Reuters report.
Australia and Singapore also imposed similar bans, however, and New Zealand and Israel have banned visitors from mainland China.
Information from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, published 2 February, said the following number of confirmed cases of coronavirus outside of China had been reported:
Japan – 20
Thailand – 19
Singapore – 18
South Korea – 15
Australia – 12
Taiwan – 11
Malaysia – 8
US – 8
Germany – 8
Vietnam – 7
France – 6
UAE – 5
Canada – 4
Italy – 2
UK – 2
India – 2
Philippines – 2
Russia – 2
Half a dozen other countries have reported a single case each.
International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) put the following advisory statement on its website:
“In general, it is good practice in situations like these to stay calm, communicate responsibly and follow official health and travel advice. We suggest to regularly check the latest information on the Novel Coronavirus outbreak of the World Health Organization and your National Travel Advisory Board’s official foreign travel advice..
“Download our whitepaper Crisis Management for Meetings for tips how to deal with crisis situations.”
And ICCA CEO Senthil Gopinath added: “On behalf of the ICCA Board of Directors we would like to express the solidarity and support of the global meetings industry community with our members, their staff and families in Wuhan and all others affected by this outbreak globally.
“We are in touch with our local members affected and will help wherever we can. I urge the ICCA family to extend all support to colleagues, the people of China and in particular in Wuhan and our six members there.
“Let’s stay strong and confident.”
Reassurance in Australia
Meanwhile, industry associations around the world are attempting to give calm advice to event organisers and delegates. Meetings & Events Australia recently met with the country’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Senator Simon Birmingham, along with Austrade and other tourism industry leaders for a briefing on the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Government’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, issued some early advice and guidance on managing concerns. This included:
- Guests who are well but may be incubating the virus should isolate themselves in their hotel rooms for 14 days
- Practical information for staff on engaging with guests who are well, but are in isolation
Further information available at: www.health.gov.au
The MEA acknowledges that both the bushfires and the coronavirus will seriously impact the country’s tourism industry, affecting domestic and international travel. The events industry will similarly be affected, it said.
The association also noted there had been cancellations across Australia from venues, hotels and tourism attractions.
Robyn Johnson, CEO of MEA issued a call for the event industry to provide feedback to MEA (email@example.com) on any business that has either been cancelled or postponed and the potential loss of revenue that this represent. She said: “It is important the industry has up-to-date information to inform our governments how the fires and the coronavirus have impacted our industry, and so that we can best represent our members”.
No cases in Malaysia
Malaysia’s state of Penang, meanwhile, said its authorities were on “high alert” even though they have not had any reported cases in the state.
Both the Penang International Airport and Port Swettenham Cruise Terminal have implemented stringent health checks of incoming passengers, as well as carrying out hygiene sanitisation at the airport more frequently. Operators of tourist attractions, hotels, shopping malls, eateries and involved stakeholders have been urged to ensure that hand sanitisers and disinfectants are readily available as a deterrent measure.
Authorities say there have been no cancellations of any confirmed business events in Penang.
For latest information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org