Update 6/12: Computex 2020 has now officially been cancelled. The show will return for its regular run in June of 2021.

Update 3/24: Computex 2020 has now officially been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The show will now take place from September 28th to the 30th, 2020.

Here at AnandTech, our two biggest PC technology trade shows of the year are CES and Computex. We could argue until the end of time which is more important, however with the recent outbreak of Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China and small cases around the world, there has been some discussion among the press if Computex, held in Taiwan, will be delayed. We have received a latest update from TAITRA, the company that organizes Computex, which states that the event is still on schedule; however other events closer to today currently have restrictions.

Computex 2003: SARS

The SARS outbreak of 2003 started in November 2002, and originated in the Guangdong province of China which borders Hong Kong. The epidemic had a final tally of 8098 cases and 774 deaths, making it very serious. Taiwan had 346 cases, with the World Health Organisation declaring Taiwan SARS-free on July 2003.

Due to the severity of the virus, TAITRA moved Computex from its usual position of early June (for 2003 it was 2nd-6th) into late September (22nd-26th). The delay announcement was made on 30th April 2003, although no date was attached at the time – the announcement was made with the assistance of a poll of already registered attendees, 1148 were polled with a 92% response rate. According to reports, 59% of attendees said they wanted to see the show postponed. Eventually the September date was chosen.

Computex 2020: 2019-nCoV

The 2019 Coronavirus outbreak started in December 2019, in the Wuhan province of north China. As of the 4th February, there are 20704 confirmed cases (20492 of which are in China), 427 deaths, and 727 recoveries. Several cities in China are still on lockdown, and in the tech world, Foxconn recently announced that it will keep its factories closed until at least February 10th, at least a week after the Chinese New Year annual holiday around this time. At present the 2019-nCoV is still a real threat, mostly contained in China, however almost a dozen countries are now also reporting at least 10 cases of the virus. Taiwan currently has 11 confirmed infections.

At present, TAITRA has started early registration for Computex 2020, which this year is still listed as scheduled for June 2nd-6th. An official news post was made on the 3rd February (yesterday), stating that the company is maintaining strict compliance with all health protocols, with the state ensuring that all visitors are undergoing thermal screening, and all medical facilities are equipped with detection and treatment rooms, regular emergency drills are taking place in medical facilities, and visitors from China are being put under heavy restrictions. It should be noted that Taiwan is often cited as having one of the best national health systems worldwide, and in the situation of an epidemic like 2019-nCoV, it is highly likely that there will be no fee to treatment for visitors due to the nature of the illness.

Unfortunately there was no mention directly of any changes to the event itself. We reached out to our contracts at Taitra, and received the following:

Taiwan has been paying close attention to the development of this virus from early on and is currently taking serious measures to reduce the damage it could make. I have attached a press statement from TAITRA related to another exhibition (TAIPEI CYCLE) which will take place in March. We have not received similar statements with regards to COMPUTEX, but I hope it answers your questions.

The event mentioned in the statement, TAIPEI CYCLE, is an annual event with 8000 attendees and 1000 exhibitors – about an order of magnitude smaller than Computex. In that document, there are two key elements to it: no Chinese exhibitors or attendees/visitors will be allowed, and all people on-site must wear facemasks. The appropriate lines are as follows.

TAITRA, as show organizer, has decided to run the 2020 Taipei Cycle Show as scheduled from March 4 to March 7. Due to the outbreak of the New Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China, we feel very sorry to inform you that all the Chinese exhibitors and Chinese visitors will not be able to come to Taiwan to attend the show.

TAITRA will implement the following measures in the prevention of this epidemic:

  • All on-site personnel including outsourced contractors must wear face masks whilst on-site and on duty.
  • Hand sanitizer to be available at each entrance and restroom of the exhibition halls, including staff and freight entrances.
  • TAITRA will cooperate with the exhibition hall operators to strengthen all possible epidemic prevention measures.
  • TAITRA will also ensure that we are working promptly in line with the national guidelines from Taiwan’s Center for Disease Control

At present we have almost 2.5x the number of confirmed cases of the Coronavirus compared to SARS in its entirety, however the mortality rate is currently lower and with these numbers in mind, the decision to disallow mainland Chinese participants at the Cycle event may propagate to Computex if the situation is similar in several months. Note, it would be very difficult to have a Computex with zero mainland Chinese presence. I suspect that any company that intends to show its hardware at Computex is going to have to ensure they have relevant demo units outside of China immediately.

Mobile World Congress 2020: In 3 Weeks

The next event on our calendar here at AnandTech is Mobile World Congress (MWC), the premier smartphone and mobile technology event on the calendar. This takes place in Barcelona, and we expect to have our Senior Smartphone Editor Andrei Frumusanu on the ground at the event. On January 31st, GSMA, the company that organizes the event, released a statement saying that the event will proceed as planned.

In the statement, GSMA also stated that it will be closely adhering to WHO recommendations, providing extra sanitation services especially in high-traffic areas such as hallways, handrails, bathrooms, and public touch screens, increased onsite medical support and medical notices, improved employee training on the matter, and closer booth-to-booth inspection for sanitary conditions. At present no attendees are restricted from the event, only by the local authority rules at ports of entry.

Computex 2020: Still on Schedule

Given the timeline of the SARS outbreak, we might expect closer to the time TAITRA start to distribute questionnaires to pre-registered attendees about their thoughts on the Coronavirus, depending on if it keeps spreading or if a relevant and quicker cure is found. As the situation develops, we will update this news post.

Sources: WikiTaitra via MSI (2003)CoV DashboardTaitra (2/3), ReutersTAIPEI CYCLEGSMA on MWC
Carousel Image from Taitra, Computex 2019

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  • JoeyJoJo123 - Wednesday, February 5, 2020 - link

    I would honestly not go to Computex and risk my life to (a virus yet uncured and possibly uncurable and no-vaccine) just cover some shiny new tech toys. There's going to be more computexes and technology releases for your entire lifetime.

    The honest dangers of the Wuhan coronavirus are the long gestation period (a person might have 0 symptoms for weeks at a time, but may still spread the coronavirus unknowingly) and the fact that there's tens of thousands of people at these trade shows, touching public facilities like escalators/elevators/toilets, etc. You could contract coronavirus, show no symptoms during the entire tradeshow and even a week after you get back home, then start getting deathly ill and possibly also spread it to other local coworkers unknowingly.

    I'd urge people to just take vacation or time off. You could always just reference other people's coverage or something with your articles.
  • levizx - Saturday, February 8, 2020 - link

    Are you illiterate? What part of "727 recoveries" made you think it's "a virus yet uncured and possibly uncurable"
  • mode_13h - Sunday, February 9, 2020 - link

    From what I've heard, asymptomatic spreaders are not typically the main transmission vectors, in viral outbreaks like this.
  • Valantar - Wednesday, February 5, 2020 - link

    Am I the only one thoroughly unimpressed by these virus outbreaks? So 8098 people got SARS and of them 774 died - that is indeed a high mortality rate, but it's also a rather shockingly low total number of infected. Remember that this was happening in some of the most densely populated areas on Earth. On the other hand the CDC estimates that 10 000-25 000 people DIED between Oct 1st 2019 and Jan 25th 2020 from influenza. In the US alone. That is more people than were infected with SARS in total, and that's just in one season, for a disease that's relatively well known even if there are always new strains.

    Sure, the majority of these deaths were likely people already very ill. But the scale of these "pandemics" is laughable in comparison. The only dramatic thing to me seems to be that the virus in question is new and unknown and we thus don't know how it will develop - but the reality tends to be that they peter out after a few months. Caution is always a good idea, but let's not pretend this is the end of the world.
  • JoeyJoJo123 - Thursday, February 6, 2020 - link

    I wouldn't consider it a pandemic, but I don't want to be one of the first guinea pigs to get a brand new illness that doctors don't know how to treat, of which one that nobody knows if there's lasting side-effects from. Chances are you're going to die from something as easily preventable as just not going into China.

    There's internet hearsay (which is dubious at best) that the genome of the Wuhan coronavirus was bio-engineered in a bioweapons research facility just 11 mi (still in Wuhan) from ground zero of the first confirmed infection, and that the genome was mapped to be similar to the SARS and HIV virus genomes. And if it's like HIV, then there might not even be a good vaccination for it for people that haven't contracted Wuhan coronavirus yet.
  • mode_13h - Sunday, February 9, 2020 - link

    Stop spreading that nonsense. If claims are dubious, then just don't repeat them.

    First, it is *not* related to HIV, which is a retrovirus.

    It *is* very similar to SARS, though I don't see why it should be difficult to believe that relatives of SARS remain in the wild, and could transfer over to humans as SARS did.
  • mode_13h - Sunday, February 9, 2020 - link

    The problem with your reasoning is in the mortality rates, and what *could* happen if nCOV-2019 isn't contained. The new coronavirus is much more lethal than flu. If it's able to spread globally, then we'll likely see absolute fatality numbers that dwarf those killed by recent influenza strains.
  • SirFlamenco - Thursday, June 4, 2020 - link

    You were right!
  • SirFlamenco - Thursday, June 4, 2020 - link

    Well that didn't age well

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