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Ministry might postpone book fair due to outbreak

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The Ministry of Culture yesterday said that it would discuss delaying the Taipei International Book Exhibition as a coronavirus infection spreads from China.

The ministry, which organizes the event, called an emergency meeting with executive co-organizer the Taipei Book Fair Foundation and representatives from attending publishers to discuss the issue.

It said it would announce a decision as soon as possible, following consultations with the foundation and publishers.

This year’s edition of the annual exhibition is due to be held at Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall 1 from Tuesday to Sunday next week.

However, some publishers have expressed concern over the event’s timing and suggested postponing it as reported cases of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection has risen sharply over the past week, the ministry said.

Many invited authors have been asking whether they should wear a mask while making a speech at the event, the Chinese-language United Daily News quoted Commonwealth Education Media and Publishing chief executive officer Amy Ho as saying.

The general public is also concerned, Ho reportedly said.

Taipei Book Fair Foundation chairman Robert Lin reportedly said that many foreign visitors would be attending the exhibition, so the implications of canceling or rescheduling it would be great.

If the ministry defers the exhibition, the venue would become available again in May at the earliest, Lin reportedly said, adding that he hopes the scale of the event and venue would remain the same if it is postponed.

The exhibition’s Web site on Tuesday posted eight measures to prevent 2019-nCoV infection.

It suggested that the participants wear a mask and frequently wash their hands, that the exhibitors monitor their body temperature and health everyday, and that the venue maintain good air ventilation, prepare hand sanitizers at entrances and set up an emergency medical services booth.

More than 580,000 people visited the six-day exhibition last year.

Meanwhile, the Kinmen County Government yesterday asked local hotel owners to discuss response measures after it on Sunday canceled the annual Kinmen Marathon, which was due to be held on Feb. 9, due to the viral outbreak.

Kinmen Tourism Department Director Ting Chien-kang urged hotels to help maintain the county’s image as a tourist-friendly destination by offering unconditional refunds to people who signed up for the marathon and booked hotel rooms between Thursday next week and Feb. 10.

The Taipei International Comics and Animation Festival would still be held at the Taipei World Trade Center Nangang Exhibition Hall from tomorrow to Tuesday next week, said the Chinese Animation and Comic Publishers Association, the event’s organizer.

It urged participants to wear surgical masks at the venue.

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