China / Society

Fever fears cast shadow on Canton Fair

By Qiu Quanlin and Zhong Nan in Guangzhou (China Daily) Updated: 2014-10-15 08:08

Fewer visitors expected because of concerns about Ebola and dengue

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa may adversely affect the China Import and Export Fair, as the number of foreign buyers at the upcoming event is expected to fall, organizers said on Tuesday.

"The Ebola and domestic dengue-fever epidemics will surely affect the fair," said Liu Jianjun, the fair's spokesman. "The number of foreign buyers, especially regular buyers from Africa, will be reduced."

The biannual fair, also known as the Canton Fair, is China's largest trade event and will draw nearly 200,000 international buyers from 200 countries and regions, as well as 300,000 domestic and overseas exhibitors, organizers said.

The fairs average more than 15,000 buyers from Africa seeking business opportunities in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, organizers said.

Liu said the organizers had not issued any measures to prevent African buyers from visiting the fair.

"We are still monitoring how many African buyers will come to the fair this time. But we will work closely with local health authorities to implement emergency measures if there are Ebola cases detected during the fair," Liu said.

Organizers have set up devices at entrances of the exhibition hall to monitor the temperature of buyers and exhibitors, he said.

"Buyers from the Ebola-hit countries and regions will be closely monitored. Their personal information will be collected, and we will send brochures in various languages to visitors to promote knowledge of preventing epidemics," Liu said.

Xinhua News Agency said the Ebola outbreak has killed at least 4,000 people and infected more than 8,000, mostly in West Africa.

While attendance from Africa may drop, Liu said the number of buyers from developed markets, including the United States and Japan, is expected to be the same as it was at the last fair. Buyers from the European Union are expected to increase.

However, the fair will see fewer buyers from emerging markets, including India and South America, due to decreased seasonal demand, Liu said.

Emergency measures will be taken to prevent the outbreak of dengue fever at the Pazhou International Convention Center, where the fair is held, as Guangdong province has reported an increase of the disease in recent weeks.

As of Monday, Guangdong reported more than 32,000 dengue fever cases.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne, potentially fatal disease that affects people mostly in coastal regions, including Guangdong, Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangxi, causing fever combined with muscle and joint aches.

On Monday alone, there were 1,420 new cases reported in Guangdong, according to the provincial health authority.

Before the opening of the fair, which is scheduled from Wednesday through Nov 4, the fair's organizers have taken measures to kill mosquitoes in the 1.18 million-square-meter exhibition hall, Liu said.

"More efforts will be taken to kill mosquitoes during the fair," Liu said.

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