Southland On Alert Against Coronavirus as First U.S. Death Reported


LONG BEACH (CNS) - A trade conference for the cargo shipping industry, that was set to open today at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Long Beach with more than 2,000 participants, has been canceled amid continued concerns about the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, organizers said.

“ In light of growing concerns around COVID-19, we've made the difficult decision to cancel #TPM20 and #ElDorado20 this year, officials with the Journal of Commerce, which sponsors the event, posted on Twitter late Saturday.

IHS Markit, which publishes the New York-based trade publication, further said in a statement on its website that it “has an absolute commitment to the health and safety of our customers, partners and colleagues. Given the deteriorating situation regarding the spread of the COVID-19 disease, unfortunately it is necessary to cancel TPM20 scheduled for March 1-4, 2020.

“This decision was made following recent guidance from health officials and in light of the rapid growth in global cases of COVID-19, in particular in the Western United States over the past 24 hours, as well as increasing travel restrictions and other circumstances.”

The cancellation came shortly after it was confirmed that a man in the state of Washington had become the first person in the U.S. to die from the disease that has killed more than 2,900 people worldwide, with the heaviest concentration in China

Last week, the World Health Organization increased its Covid-19 risk assessment to “very high at a global level,” as nearly 50 countries report cases within their borders.

“We are on the highest level of alert or highest level of risk assessment in terms of spread and in terms of impact,” Mike Ryan, executive director of the organization's health emergencies program, said. “The agency isn't trying to incite panic. This is a reality check for every government on the planet: Wake up, get ready, this virus may be on its way and you need to be ready.”

On Saturday, President Donald Trump announced new travel restrictions involving Iran and warnings about travel to parts of Italy and South Korea, where high virus activity has been detected.

Multiple airlines have suspended or reduced flights to China and Hong Kong, and United Airlines has halted flights to Japan and Singapore.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health advised travelers to talk with their doctors before traveling “to make sure you have received the recommended vaccines and medications specific to your destination.”

Several other conferences and events scheduled for March have also been canceled as a precaution, most notably the Game Developers Conference, which was set for March 16-20 in San Francisco and usually attracts more than 30,000 gaming industry professionals.

The Trans-Pacific Merchants conference has been a mainstay in Long Beach, having held 19 of its past 20 events there with delegates, historically, reserving up to 5,000 room nights, according to the Long Beach Post website.

Photo: Getty Images

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