ISM officials say preparations for the 50th edition of the world’s largest fair for sweets and snacks are continuing as planned amid growing concern over the spread of coronavirus in China and beyond.
A spokeswoman for trade fair organizer Koelnmesse said the organization is receiving enquiries about the virus ahead of the event, set for Feb. 2-5 in Cologne, Germany.
“Koelnmesse takes the matter seriously and has initiated a level of heightened vigilance,” a statement reads on Koelnmesse’s website. “This also includes us being in permanent dialogue with the health authorities. The competent institutions in Germany and Cologne do not currently anticipate a direct threat. Germany is well prepared to identify, isolate and, where necessary, treat potential patients.”
Koelnmesse added fair attendees will be advised on “precautionary measures” and disinfectant supplies will be increased at the facility.
The 2019 novel coronavirus has caused an outbreak of respiratory illnesses first detected in Wuhan, China, with symptoms including fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Global cases had surpassed 6,000 as of Wednesday, with five confirmed in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended avoiding all nonessential travel to China. British Airways cancelled all flights to China Wednesday, while United Airlines has suspended 24 U.S. flights to Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai between Feb. 1 and Feb. 8.
German health officials reported four coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Bavaria, but officials consider risk of the virus spreading as low.
"It was to be expected that the virus would also reach Germany. However, the cases show that we are well prepared for it,” said Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn.
The German Health Ministry said health authorities for airports in Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin have prepared informational material for travelers arriving from China. Depending on the risk assessment for Germany, other possible measures are being examined on an ongoing basis.