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Update on ICANN67 Planning and COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

14 February 2020
By Göran Marby

The ICANN Board and ICANN org have been closely monitoring COVID-19 since it was first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019. The World Health Organization now considers COVID-19 a global health emergency.

As we approach ICANN67 in Cancún, Mexico, we continue to assess the situation because, as we have stated before, the health and well-being of the ICANN community is our highest priority. Today, I asked the ICANN community leaders and representatives to join me on call next week to share information and solicit their input.

The message I sent to the community leaders today:

Dear Community Leaders and Representatives:

Thank you for your prompt responses to my last email enquiring about your Community members’ thoughts regarding travel to Cancun for ICANN67.

Many of you have asked for more information about how we are assessing the situation. I’d like to hold a call with you to discuss the matter in detail, and propose that we hold the call this coming Tuesday, 18 February at 17:00 UTC. A calendar invitation will follow shortly.

In the meantime, I’d like to share with you what we know about the situation today.

ICANN Org has convened a crisis management team to monitor the global situation related to the COVID-19 coronavirus and assess how it may impact the important work of the ICANN community, Board, and Org. To help you prepare for the call on Tuesday, I’d like to share what we know about the situation today.

  • As of 13 February, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports there are more than 60,000 confirmed cases in 25 countries. Approximately 450 of those cases are outside China.
  • At the time of this writing, there are no confirmed cases anywhere in the LAC region.
    • Mexico’s Ministry of Health is monitoring and testing two suspected cases, one in Mexico City (800 miles from Cancún) and one in Nuevo Leon (900 miles from Cancún). All 12 previously suspected cases in Mexico tested negative and were cleared.
    • The Brazilian Ministry of Health is currently monitoring and testing 11 newly suspected cases.
  • The incubation period for the virus is still unknown, and has ranged from five days to 24 days.
  • Once suspected, testing for the virus can take up to 14 days.
  • As a result of the outbreak the GSMA Board has cancelled the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain; and Cisco Australia has cancelled its Cisco Live event, scheduled for 3-6 March in Melbourne, Australia. (We note that APRICOT2020/APNIC49 in Melbourne has not been cancelled.)

As we consider the potential impact for going ahead with ICANN67 as planned, we are closely monitoring a variety of factors, such as: 

  • The development of confirmed cases in Cancún.
  • The ability of health authorities in Mexico to effectively mitigate and respond to a case or outbreak. Examples:
    • Clear testing and quarantine protocols, and determination of whether patients can be managed in Cancún or must be transferred elsewhere.
    • Concern over sufficiency of travel restrictions or health screenings for travelers coming from affected countries.
  • ICANN meetings are attended by contractors and participants from more than 150 countries. With cases in at least 25 of those countries, there is a risk of bringing the virus to Cancún and into the ICANN meeting site.
  • The potential a member of the Org presenting COVID-19 symptoms, raising concerns that they may have potentially infected colleagues scheduled to attend ICANN67.
  • The potential of an attendee contracting the virus in Mexico, and inadvertently bringing the virus back to their home country, organization, and family.
  • The risk of a “cruise ship” scenario in which a suspected or confirmed case is identified during the meeting, necessitating the mass-quarantine of all attendees and locals.
  • Discrimination or harassment against any attendee perceived to come from affected countries or regions (i.e., racial or ethnic stereotyping).

I understand that this is short notice for a call. If you cannot make it to the call, I hope that you will forward the call information to your vice-chair or your designee.

Thank you for your understanding. I look forward to our discussion and your feedback, which will enable ICANN org to make the best decision we possibly can, in the collective interests of our Board, staff, and community.

Göran Marby

President & CEO ICANN

I thank the community leaders and representatives in advance for this discussion, and we will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.



Göran Marby

Göran Marby

Former President & CEO