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Berlin ITB travel fair cancelled over coronavirus fears: organisers

Berlin ITB travel fair cancelled over coronavirus fears: organisers

GERMANY: Organisers of the ITB travel trade fair in Berlin, billed as the world’s biggest, said Friday they were cancelling next week’s event in the German capital over coronavirus fears.

tourismeconomicsCoronavirusCOVID-19
By AFP

Saturday 29 February 2020, 09:25AM


People arrive at the venue for ITB Berlin. Photo: AFP

People arrive at the venue for ITB Berlin. Photo: AFP

"With more than 10,000 exhibitors from over 180 countries, ITB Berlin is of great importance for the global tourism industry," said Christian Goeke, chairman of organisers Messe Berlin.

"We take our responsibility for the security and the health of our guests, exhibitors and employees very seriously. It is with a heavy heart that we have to look at the necessary cancellation of the ITB Berlin 2020."

The fair was due to open next Wednesday (March 4), but concerns grew over the viability of hosting huge numbers of visitors as Germany recorded a jump in the number of infected residents.

With confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Europe’s biggest economy rising above 60, more than 1,000 people were in quarantine in Germany’s most populous state Friday.

The district of Heinsberg in North Rhine-Westphalia said it had to take the step of keeping around 1,000 on their homes as an infected couple had participated in carnival celebrations in mid-February.

Schools and kindergartens were also shut in the district until Monday as the number of cases linked to the cluster reached 20.

Separately, accountancy giant Ernst & Young told its 1,400 employees at its Duesseldorf office and another 110 in Essen to work from home after one worker reportedly contracted the virus.

In Hamburg, dozens of parents and children who were in contact with an infected paediatrician at a university clinic have also been ordered to stay home for 14 days.

With cases now detected across several further German states including Hesse, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Bavaria, Health Minister Jens Spahn said this week that Europe’s biggest country was "at the beginning of a coronavirus epidemic".

The government has ordered local authorities in the country’s 16 states to update their pandemic readiness plans.

It also from Thursday began requiring travellers arriving from China, South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy to provide contact details in case their movements had to be traced over possible infections.

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