An infectologist tells us if the latest MWC measures to control the coronavirus threat make sense
MWC 2020 is going through a difficult time. Although Mobile maintains some of its great presentations, the cascade of companies that are canceling its participation threatens to leave the great technological event in Barcelona very touched. And all because of the coronavirus.
For this reason, the GSMA, the organizer of Mobile, announced on Sunday a series of measures that, in its own words, are aimed at "reassuring attendees and exhibitors" and showing "that their health and safety are [their] main concern " Things like "not allowing access to Hubei travelers", or people who "have been in China less than 14 days ago2, add to the measures that were already being implemented by the organizers and the health authorities of Catalonia.
But perhaps most interestingly, the organization was going to ask attendees to "self-certify" no "that they have not been in contact with any infected person." Given these measures, we have asked ourselves, are the measures proposed by the MWC sufficient to prevent the coronavirus from leading the Congress?
What the experts say
"The MWC organizers have a serious problem and that problem is, paradoxically, that the problem is not at all as serious as it may seem," says Julián Rodríguez, an expert in infectious diseases and an associate professor at the Complutense University of Madrid. According to Rodríguez, as all the authorities are explaining, there is no reason to think that the risk of problems in Barcelona is high and, in general, the health services are more than prepared to take on the possible cases that may arise.
In this sense, the GSMA's ballot is curbing a problem that, in many ways, "is being oversized", if we pay attention to the WHO and the Catalan health authorities. The most controversial mean, that of self-certification, reflects on an idea that is often repeated by public health experts, that "the main risk factor in influenza transmission is influenza" because, by treating symptoms, they favor exposure from other persons. This also applies to the coronavirus and, therefore, "it is important to follow the recommendations."
Ultimately, the measures announced by GSMA focus on certain very specific issues that "coincide with the protocols handled by both WHO and national systems." "The measures appear correct, but they are still being carried out around the world and in China itself in a much more radical way." In other words, "most likely, these measures will not be applied because visitors will already arrive in Barcelona 'filtered'". In this sense, the movement seems more oriented to transmit "a message of tranquility" in the face of a situation that, as the health authorities say, is arousing "unjustified hysteria."
What the Generalitat says
We have contacted the authorities to find out what steps were being taken.The Health Department does not want to enter to assess the latest movements of companies, brands and institutions, but to questions from Xataka it has been reaffirmed in what is his speech in recent days, that Catalonia is not a risk area for public health . To date, and despite receiving thousands of visitors every day, "only four suspicions have been investigated" and none of them have been positive. For the Public Health Agency of Catalonia, the current management of the crisis "demonstrates that the protocol for action against the coronavirus is working perfectly".
In recent days, ASPCAT has trained more than 200 professional trainers, have designed informational materials, organized meetings and "maintain constant communications with the Ministry of Health, the universities, the General Directorate of Tourism and the Hoteliers Guild, the addresses of hospital centers, the Chinese consulate and the organization of the Mobile World Congress. "
Focusing on the latter, the Generalitat teams confirm that it has been agreed to increase the visibility of the health service points in the venue and a campaign is being prepared to make visitors aware of the need to follow security measures (cleaning of hands, disinfection systems and coordination with the MWC assistance service). However, throughout the week it is expected that more measures will be agreed in collaboration with GSMA, the organizers of the event.