Coronavirus: OPEC reduces number of delegates, stops journalists from covering OPEC, non-OPEC Meeting

By Udeme Akpan

THE Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, has adopted measures, targeted at preventing the spread of Coronavirus, as the 178th Extraordinary Meeting of OPEC Conference and the 8th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting open in Vienna, Austria.

The measures – reducing the number of delegates from member States, stopping journalists from covering the events, shortening the format of gatherings and cancelling any related side-activities – aimed at discouraging the concentration of persons at the venue, reduction of physical contact and other possibilities that can culminate in the spreading of Coronavirus.

In a document obtained by Vanguard, OPEC stated: “In light of the COVID-19 outbreak and after consultations with various authorities, members of the press will not be allowed to enter the OPEC Secretariat building for the 18th Meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, the 178th (Extraordinary) Meeting of the OPEC Conference and the 8th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting.

“This precautionary measure has become necessary due to the public health risk that would come from convening such a vast number of people in one place. We are also limiting the number of OPEC and non-OPEC delegates at the OPEC Secretariat to a bare minimum and have taken a raft of recommended precautionary measures to mitigate the potential risk of anyone being exposed to COVID-19.”

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According to OPEC, “The OPEC Secretariat is following the advice of the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs with regard to COVID-19 risk management and adhering to the recent Advisory Note of the UN Secretary-General, HE António Guterres.

“The UN Secretary-General recommended shortening the format of such gatherings, limiting the number of participants and cancelling any related side-events. The decision of the OPEC Secretariat is therefore in line with this advice. The OPEC Secretariat will keep members of the press fully informed of any decisions taken following the culmination of the 8th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting on 6 March.”

It added: “We are also planning to livestream the opening sessions of the three meetings. We apologize profusely for any inconvenience caused and would ask for the understanding of members of the press given the fluidity and extraordinary nature of the ongoing situation.”

However, investigation showed that prior to the announcement of the measures, many delegates and journalists, drawn from member States – Algeria, Angola, Congo, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirate and Venezuela – and others had arrived Vienna, Austria.

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