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MWC Back On, But Why Risk COVID-19 Say Experts

Mobile World Congress the big mobile and telco show is back on despite two of the biggest mobile brands Samsung and Apple choosing to do their own thing outside of the Barcelona show in the past.

MWC is hoping to get allow tens of thousands of international visitors to congregate for its flagship event in Barcelona in June despite European Governments banning shipments of vaccine to Australia because of the lack of vaccines for locals who are still witnessing hundreds dying of COVID-19 every week.

One of the key criteria’s is that attendees are able to confirm negative Covid-19 result to access the Fira Gran Via venue and repeat the test every 72 hours.

Rapid testing centres will be made available on site and organizers are considering using hotels for more.

“We believe that we can have around 45,000 to 50,000 attendees, as of today,” Stephanie Lynch-Habib, the GSMA’s chief marketing officer, said in an interview on Monday, adding that visitor interest is expected to be strong.

Attendees from Australia will have to quarantine for two weeks on their return.

In 2019 MWC Barcelona, attracted 109,000 attendees from 198 countries, was one of the first major European conference casualties when it was axed in February last year.

Not everyone is convinced the time is right for large gatherings. Peter Diamandis, XPrize Foundation founder, said he’d been “humbled and pained” after hosting a small in-person event in January that left many infected with Covid-19, himself included, despite requiring rapid testing and the wearing of masks.

“As a scientist, engineer and medical person, I believed we were using the very best that science had to offer,” he wrote in a blog post last month. “I thought five physicians and 452 tests, and my entire safety team could maintain safety. I was wrong.”

The GSMA said in a statement its plan was “developed in coordination with and approved by the Catalan health authorities.” Visitors to MWC Barcelona will have to download a new mobile app that acts as both a digital badge for entry as well as a contact-tracing beacon, it said.

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