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Nokia withdraws from MWC 2020 over coronavirus outbreak

The Finnish telecom and its phone licensee HMD Global have pulled out of the Barcelona trade show, along with Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and BT.

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Nokia won't be at MWC 2020.

Angela Lang/CNET

Nokia on Wednesday became the latest company to pull out of Mobile World Congress, following many other tech companies in reacting to the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Amazon, Intel and Sony are among the companies that have already opted out of the Barcelona trade show, meant to run Feb. 24-27.

"We have taken the necessary time to evaluate a fast-moving situation, engage with the GSMA and other stakeholders, regularly consult external experts and authorities, and plan to manage risks based on a wide range of scenarios," the Finnish telecom said in its statement.

"The conclusion of that process is that we believe the prudent decision is to cancel our participation at Mobile World Congress."

Instead of going to Barcelona, the company will showcase its products in a series of "Nokia Live" events.

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Nokia's phone licensee HMD Global announced that it's pulling out as well, "to safeguard the health and well-being of employees and other stakeholders."

Deutsche Telekom, Germany's major telecom, won't attend either, CEO Tim Höttges confirmed on LinkedIn, nor will the UK's Vodafone and BT. Franco-Italian chipmaker STMicroelectronics said that it's withdrawing its exhibition too.

The novel coronavirus was discovered in December in Wuhan, the capital of China's Hubei region. As of Wednesday, the pneumonialike illness -- dubbed COVID-19 -- had infected more than 45,000 people and claimed more than 1,100 lives. Cases have been confirmed in around 30 countries, including two in Spain. 

GSMA, the trade group that puts on MWC, said over the weekend that the show is going ahead, but it's putting extra public health measures in place -- including banning travelers from Hubei province.

First published Feb. 12 at 3:53 a.m. PT.
Updates 4:26 a.m. PT: Adds more detail. Updates 5:50 a.m. PT: Adds Deutsche Telekom confirmation, along with Vodafone and BT.