ITB Berlin will take place as scheduled! Should it?

“Previously I felt ITB was right to continue- now I'm not so sure.”

ITB Berlin will take place as scheduled! Should it?

After an entire Monday of suspense and no comments, ITB Berlin tweeted at 18:30 (6:30 pm) German time the show will go on . The message: ‘ITB Berlin will take place as scheduled despite the Coronavirus uproar.‘

A reader from Hannover, Germany said: “Madness, total madness; this should be postponed. Apparently an announcement has been made saying ITB is still going ahead. I hope nobody gets sick. Is the risk really worth it? Berlin hospitals cannot serve more than 60 patients in isolation rooms, and they had been warning health authorities.”

eTurboNews earlier predicted ITB Berlin was expected to cancel. There were no comments when eTN talked to Messe Berlin, the organizer of ITB, the Senate in Berlin, and the Ministry of Health. The first reaction came in at 6:30 pm from ITB after the Minister of Health, Spahn, only vaguely referred to mass events in Germany in connection with the Coronavirus.

A reader from Milan, Italy, said: “For me, the outbreak in Milan is a direct consequence of BIT fair held earlier this month (40,000 visitors). ITB should not make us risk our health and waste our time. I imagine that even if one of 100,000 participants of ITB has the symptoms, we would all have to quarantine in Germany for at least 2 weeks.”

In response to eTurboNews, ITB explained: There are no restrictions for Chinese, Asian, or Italiens traveling to Germany. Travelers from some countries may be asked when entering the EU Schengen region if they visited countries affected by Coronavirus or had contact with people from such regions.

To protect exhibitors and visitors at ITB, we will add staff to clean and disinfect. In addition, we suggest to anyone participating to wash their hands and don’t cough. Shaking hands may also not be advisable.

ITB Berlin organizers are extremely irresponsible in continuing to insist that the show will go ahead. It’s not too late to cancel, but the responsible thing would be to do so ASAP.

The event should have been canceled weeks earlier and, in the face of clear evidence of asymptomatic transmission, this is a risk that can and must be avoided. They are putting the German population and the German health system at totally unnecessary risk. They are putting the people and health systems of the rest of the world at risk. Remember that the health systems of most of the world are not as well equipped as Germany to handle an epidemic of this nature.

Why gamble with this?
They are setting an extremely bad example for the rest of the world, which tarnishes the ITB and German brands. 
The RKI has not made clear the risks the event poses (the elevated risks to the public from a close gathering of so many people from all over the world under conditions of proven asymptomatic transmission). Yet they have allowed their press release to be used by the ITB organizers in a very misleading way. Perhaps they are not aware of this. Also, the AUMA appears to be putting business interests ahead of the welfare of especially the poor, the unwell, and the elderly people of all countries of the world.

I hope a grown-up will put a stop to this mess.

Messe Berlin was working with the Federal Ministry of Health and the Robert Koch Institute yesterday on a new evaluation of the risk involved for ITB taking place in Germany. The institute published their finding today saying:

A reader from Krakow, Poland said: What if there will be only one person infected? The virus surely will spread onto other people in a matter of minutes. Disinfection is NOT enough. We know nothing about viruses, about the cure, why risk it all?

In Germany, there have only been a few confirmed cases of infection with the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) so far. All of them are either related to a single case of infection (infection cluster) at a company in Bavaria, or they are cases among German citizens who were repatriated from Wuhan at the beginning of February 2020. Most patients have already recovered and have been discharged from the hospital.

A reader from Munich, Germany, said: It seems that the media hype is also affecting events like ITB; sad to see how little people understand. Winter 2017/18 we had 25,000 people dying in Germany from ordinary flu – no one was even thinking to cancel events like ITB, etc. The mortality rate is very similar.

The Robert Koch Institute is continuously monitoring the situation, evaluating all the available information and estimating the risk for the population in Germany. On a global level, the situation is developing very dynamically and must be taken seriously. There is currently not enough data to allow for a final assessment of the severity of this new respiratory disease. Serious and fatal courses of the disease have been documented in some cases. Further transmission and chains of infection in Germany are also possible, as an import of further cases to Germany is to be expected. Nevertheless, there is no evidence of sustained viral circulation in Germany at present. For this reason, the risk to the health of the population in Germany currently remains low. Based on what was known on February 10, it is not clear whether it will be possible to limit the worldwide spread of the pathogen; this assessment may, therefore, change at short notice as a result of new findings.

A reader from Sri Lanka responded: “The risk of contracting Coronavirus – every hall has the same ventilation system, and that’s how it spread on the Diamond Princess.”

The institute pointed out in mid-February that a global spread of the virus in the form of a pandemic is possible. The goal in Germany is to detect infections as early as possible to prevent further spread of the virus.

The strategy in Germany is to win time to be able to prepare and learn more details about the virus, how it reacts, how it spreads, who the risk group is, and how to protect. Another goal is to have COVID-19 and the regular influence virus not meet to avoid a maximum capacity limit for treatment facilities.

As soon as more cases are known in Germany and it would become more obvious that a spread could not be stopped, one should concentrate to protect groups and people that show a higher risk and have a more severe reaction to the virus.

A reader from London, UK, has a comment that summarizes concerns saying: “I think we need to watch what happens in Italy and South Korea very carefully this week as there could be real risks for people but also the wider world if someone attends with it and could infect anyone from anywhere and it spread globally. That’s a big responsibility for [an] event to have. This has become a serious consideration now. Previously I felt ITB was right to continue – now I’m not so sure.

A reader from Malaysia wants ITB to move forward saying: “ITB should NOT be canceled. The main reason is that the world economy cannot be stopped. Stopping travel to unaffected countries is not a solution and could only mean travel businesses could become collateral damage in the fight against coronavirus. The World Health Organization always said, ‘do not stop travel and commerce.’ even after WHO declared a global epidemic emergency. It is not a pandemic yet as WHO felt that it is still in a Control Situation.”

Gloria Guevara, President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council | WTTC , told eTurboNews: “We work directly with the World Health Organization. They never told people not to travel. We should try to stop the panic and act responsibly for the benefit of our sector.”


Join Safertourism, PATA, the African Tourism Board, LGBTMPA on an important discussion on Coronavirus for breakfast on March 5 at the Grand Hyatt in Berlin. Meet Dr. Peter Tarlow, one the most known expert in this field. Click here to register.

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