The real and present dangers posed by the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan and cases in other parts of China are likely to affect the staging of major pet trade shows in the country this year.

Show organizers have formally postponed shows scheduled for February and March, though nothing in April or later.* The Chinese government has ordered an indefinite full lockdown of more cities, restricted transport services for millions of people and imposed overseas groups travel ban. All these could result in major disruptions for trade events already calendared as early as last year.

At least eight pet trade shows scheduled in 2020

Here are the pet shows that are supposed to take place in major Chinese cities for 2020 and their original dates:

  • Pet Fair Beijing, February 21-23, Beijing
  • China International Pet Fair 2020, March 6-8, Guangzhou
  • China Pet Expo 2020, March 13-16, Beijing
  • Pet Fair Chengdu, April 9-12, Chengdu
  • Shanghai International Pet Expo, April 16-18, Shanghai
  • Pet Fair South China, May 15-17, Guangzhou
  • Pet Fair Asia, August 19-23, Shanghai
  • 24th China International Pet Show (CIPS 2020), November 12-15, Guangzhou

Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China with confirmed cases of the deadly virus, has also declared a virus “outbreak” emergency and ordered schools to be closed until February 17. Its also temporarily suspended all planes in and out of the city and canceled train service between Hong Kong and the mainland to stop the spread of the virus. An event called Pet Show 2020 is scheduled for February 6 to 9 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

A spokesperson for VNU Exhibitions Asia, organizers of several events on the list above, said shows after its Pet Fair Beijing are not impacted at the moment. "We remain vigilant on the ongoing situation but based on the current direction, there’s little worry that the August show [Pet Fair Asia in Shanghai} will be impacted by the virus."*

Could affect pet food operations, too

Ten of the at least 16 cities on lockdown are located in central China’s Hubei province, with Wuhan declared ground zero for the coronavirus outbreak. The other cities in Hubei under indefinite lockdown because of the virus outbreak are Huanggang, Ezhou, Chibi, Qianjiang, Zhijiang; Jingmen, Xiantao, Xiaogan and Huangshi.

In these places, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the operations of pet food manufacturers, importers, distributors, shops and other pet-related businesses and those that do trade with them until the threat of the potentially lethal pneumonia-causing illness that infects the respiratory tract is over. In a recent press conference, Chinese officials said the disease will remain an issue for the near future.

To date, China’s worst health crisis in years has rapidly spread across the world with more than 20,000* confirmed cases in the U.S., France, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Macao, Nepal and other countries. The World Health Organization has declared a public health emergency of international concern due to the coronavirus, which has also reached Taiwan, where an annual pet event, Taipei Pets Show, is slated for July 10-13, 2020.

*Note: This article has been updated to reflect the latest number of cases, recent show postponements and add a statement from a show organizer.