Coronavirus outbreak forces Huawei to postpone developer conference

Telecom giant Huawei has postponed a big developer conference by more than a month because of the deadly coronavirus outbreak wreaking havoc in China.

The smartphone maker said it pushed back the event from mid-February to March 27 and 28 over concerns about the virus that has killed 17 people and sickened hundreds.

“Based on the prevention and control of the pneumonia epidemic situation of the new coronavirus infection, we attach great importance to the health and safety of all the participants,” Huawei said on the conference’s website, according to a translation.

The conference, billed as Huawei’s “flagship event” for information and communications developers, was originally slated to take place Feb. 11 and 12 in Shenzen, the home of Huawei’s headquarters. The coastal city is close to 700 miles south of Wuhan, the center of the coronavirus outbreak.

Huawei and other Chinese companies have told their employees to limit or avoid travel to Wuhan, which has been put on lockdown as the disease spreads ahead of this weekend’s Lunar New Year holiday.

The founder of Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer and Apple supplier, has told employees in Taiwan to stay away from mainland China altogether over the holiday.

“Colleagues and their families who have come back from Wuhan are all in isolation at home,” Foxconn boss Terry Gou said at the company’s Lunar New Year party on Wednesday. “The infection is spreading very fast.”

Chinese officials have confirmed more than 500 cases of the coronavirus, whose symptoms include fever, difficulty breathing and cough. Cases have also been reported in Thailand, the US, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

Flights out of Wuhan have been suspended and officials in nearby Huanggang plan to shut down public transportation at the end of Thursday. Train stations have also been closed in Ezhou, another nearby city.

World stock markets have fallen amid fears about the virus. Dow and S&P futures in the US were pointing slightly lower Thursday morning, while Nasdaq futures were roughly even.

With Post wires

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