Samsung takes precautions for coronavirus at Unpacked 2020

The smartphone giant is monitoring people and offering face masks.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
3 min read

At its Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco, Samsung is taking care over the coronavirus.

Shara Tibken/CNET

Samsung  is guarding against coronavirus and associated worries at its Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco.

The company is offering face masks and hand sanitizer to attendees and has posted signage to recommend that people wash hands and take other steps to protect themselves. The company also said it's using thermal imaging cameras at the entrance to the event, held Tuesday at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, to detect fevers or people who could be ill. 

"In an effort to protect the health and well-being of attendees, anyone who displays unusual or extreme respiratory symptoms will be asked to consult with a medical supervisor onsite," the company said ahead of Unpacked. 

Watch this: Hands-on with the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus and S20 Ultra

Samsung on Tuesday is showing off its newest phones, likely the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy Z Flip. It's the first show to be led by Samsung's new head of mobile, Tae-moon Roh. Along with the phones, the company is expected to unveil new Galaxy Buds Plus earbuds, and it might even introduce its long-awaited Bixby-powered smart speaker

The event comes amid worries about coronavirus. Over the past week, company after company has pulled out of MWC 2020, the world's largest mobile trade show, and numerous others have said they'll alter their plans over concerns about the deadly virus. That'll include taking measures like quarantining Chinese executives for the two weeks leading up to the MWC conference.

As of Friday, Samsung still planned to have a booth and presence at Mobile World Congress, people familiar with Samsung's plans said, but we could see a halt to the important dealmaking between executives that often takes place behind the scenes at an event that attracts 100,000 people. The entire MWC conference is now in doubt as big names like AT&T have said they'll no longer attend. 

A pneumonia-like disease, the new coronavirus was discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December. The strain has now infected more than 42,000 people and claimed more than 1,000 lives. It's spread beyond China's borders to places like the US, Japan and Australia. Authorities around the world have begun limiting travel and enforcing quarantines to guard against the spread. 

The outbreak of the disease has had ripple effects across the globe and illustrates how connected the tech world has become. Chinese companies are some of the world's biggest makers of mobile devices, and they're also key parts of the supply chain, manufacturing components and assembling devices for customers across the globe. The worries about the coronavirus have resulted in shuttered factories and the quarantine of the 11 million people living in Wuhan. Numerous technology companies have closed their stores and offices in the country and have implemented travel restrictions. 

MWC brings together companies from across the globe, with many using the trade show as the place to introduce their newest  smartphones . This year is expected to feature new 5G phones from nearly every major Android vendor, as well as news about the networks running the new super-fast connectivity. But the coronavirus threatens to curtail the trade show.

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