LONDON - A major European technology trade fair has a low-tech idea for reducing virus risks: go hands-free. Organizers of this month’s Mobile World Congress show are advising attendees to adopt a no-handshake policy, threatening to dampen visiting executives’ ability to meet and schmooze customers. Show organizers also plan to step up cleaning and disinfecting and make sure speakers don’t use the same microphone. Some companies, meanwhile, are pulling out or scaling back plans. MWC is an important networking and lobbying opportunity for mobile industry executives and government officials from around the world. It’s the world’s biggest wireless industry trade fair, held in Barcelona, Spain, on the other side of the globe from the virus outbreak’s Chinese epicenter. More than 100,000 people were expected to attend this year, with about 6% from China. The coronavirus has now infected more than 31,400 people globally and killed more than 630, most of them in China. The latest turmoil for MWC came Friday when Sweden’s Ericsson, a major supplier of telecom infrastructure gear, said it was pulling out of the Feb. 24-27 event because it feared the health and safety of employees and customers “cannot be ensured.” While there’s little sign of a mass exodus in the works, the departure of Ericsson is a blow to the show because it’s one of the biggest exhibitors.

Unseen Charles Dickens letters open window into the life of a genius

LONDON -Letters by Charles Dickens, revealing his state of mind while working on novels including A Christmas Carol, are to go on display for the first time. In one, he discloses: “I have been writing my head off since ten o’clock...” despite being on holiday. The 25 unpublished letters are part of a huge collection of manuscripts, books from his library and personal items. They have been acquired by the Charles Dickens Museum in London and will go on display later in the year. The acquisition is being announced to mark the writer’s birthday on Friday. While he was writing A Christmas Carol, Dickens sent a letter dated 9 November 1843 to a close friend. “I have half done the Christmas Book, and am resting for two days before going to Chuzzlewit [Martin Chuzzlewit, his sixth novel] - that is, if I can call anything rest, with that before me. “Yesterday I walked a great deal. Today I am going out on horseback, for a thirty mile ride.”