Flu outbreak prompts five more to miss Asia petchems summit

06 May 2009 08:51  [Source: ICIS news]

By Bohan Loh

Delegates will miss APIC due to swine fluSINGAPORE (ICIS news)--Fears over the global outbreak of influenza virus A (H1N1) prompted five other Asian petrochemical companies to cancel travel plans to the upcoming Asian Petrochemicals Industry Conference (APIC) in South Korea, sources from regional industry associations said on Wednesday.

Thailand’s Siam Cement Group (SCG) has decided to miss this year’s major gathering of petrochemical companies on 14-15 May in Seoul.

Taiwan’s CPDC, Formosa Petrochemicals, and state-owned CPC have also requested cancellation of travels to South Korea this month, while the Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore (PCS) has also opted out of the two-day conference.

The summit host country - South Korea has two confirmed cases of influenza A and had the first case of human-to-human transmission of the virus in Asia.

“We have recently received a company directive that we are not allowed to travel to countries with [a] confirmed case of swine flu,” said a CPC company source.

Petrochemical companies have been taking internal precautionary measures to safeguard employees from contracting the flu virus that had so far killed 30 people and infected nearly 1,500 globally.

Some Japanese and Chinese companies were the first to decide not to go to APIC 2009.

APIC participants have been scrambling to cancel bookings this week just before flights could be confirmed, said a spokesperson from the Petrochemicals Industry Association of Taiwan (PIAT).

“There might be more cancellations these two days as there I think most of the deadline for the issuance of flight tickets will fall within this week,” said the spokesperson from PIAT.

There are concerns that another major industry event in Guangzhou, China - Chinaplas 2009 - the week after APIC may also see a severely decimated number of participants due to fears of H1N1 contagion.

Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, had the first confirmed case H1N1 infection in Asia.

Chinaplas is the largest plastics and rubber trade fair in Asia and is widely recognised by the industry as the one of most influential and widely attended exhibition in the world.

Event organiser Adsale Exhibition Services Ltd had not received “a significant” amount of enquiries or concerns over the outbreak of influenza A, said spokesperson Helen Chan.

Chan said over 70,000 delegates from 100 countries were expected to convene at Chinaplas this year.

In 2008, Chinaplas 2008 had 72,161 participants from 118 countries.

“We already have a series of precautionary measures and we have been working with the exhibition centre to ensure hygiene standards. We also have medical clinics set up on-site,” Chan said.

With additional reporting by Judith Wang
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By: Bohan Loh
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