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Facebook’s set-piece developer conference has become the latest victim of spreading coronovirus panic after organisers were forced to shelve the annual gathering.

Around 5,000 delegates had been expected to gather at F8 in San Jose in early May to discuss software developments but the social network will now explore non-physical avenues of communication such as video links, live streams and smaller local events to share knowledge.

In a message confirming the cancellation organisers wrote: “In light of the growing concerns around COVID-19, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person component of F8 this year, to prioritize the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on.”

Facebook is far from alone in shying away from large gatherings with Sony, Microsoft and Epic Games joining Facebook in withdrawing from the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, although the event is still expected to go ahead as planned next month.

Fears have grown in the US after health officials identified a case of coronavirus infection in Northern California which could not be traced back to a virus hotspot.
Facebook has found itself on the frontline of an information battle in efforts to tackle the virus after being ordered by the Singapore government to block its citizens from accessing the page of the State Times Review over fake news concerns.

Omnicom CEO Jon Wren was yesterday forced to issue travel guidance to staff following the closure of its London OMD office amid a Coronavirus scare.