As of writing, fears over the novel coronavirus have taken a sizable toll on tech conferences. The giant 2020 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is cancelled, along with Facebook's global marketing summit in San Francisco.
Over the weekend, IBM said it would no longer take part in the large annual RSA cyber security conference because of fears over Covid-19, as the virus is now known.
• Coronavirus worries force cancellation of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, CiscoLive in Melbourne
• NZ's largest tech retailer pulls expo, citing coronavirus disruption
• It is surprising that there was no Plan B for dealing with mass cancellations of tech events
• Coronavirus: Apple warns it won't hit revenue targets
Closer to home, Cisco Live in Melbourne in early March is now deleted from the calendar.
Elsewhere, attendees from mainland China are politely asked to stay away from tech conferences for now. China has placed a six-month moratorium on events, which has meant the postponement of the first instance of the DEFCON security conference in Shanghai.
Some tech companies have also banned employees from work travel to anywhere in the world while the Covid-19 pandemic rages.
Nobody's seen anything like it but there's so much uncertainty around Covid-19 that pulling out seems a safer bet for anything China-connected like MWC than trying to manage the risk with plenty of disinfection stations, thermal cameras and a no-handshake policy for meeting and greeting.
Maybe there were insurance issues, and event attendance fatigue at play too, but it's still an unprecedented turn of affairs.
Meanwhile, FC Barcelona games are still on which is a bit strange, but I guess cancelling those would have the locals rioting.
It is surprising there was no Plan B for dealing with mass cancellations of tech events.
They are very important for the sector and a trillion-dollar business; MWC20, with 100,000 attendees, was expected to bring in US$500 million ($776.2m).
Tech companies and staffers pay big money to attend important events for them, to show off their stuff and learn what the competition is up to.
New products and services are launched at the events and many have workshops, presentations and courses where you learn about new ways to code and deploy tech.
Knowing what comes up inspires new business ideas and helps map out companies' strategies for the next few years.
This is why The Geek Biz has so many conferences, meet-ups and launch events in any given normal year.
To give you an example, a couple of years ago, an American journalist friend and I worked out that we could probably drop having permanent housing and instead move from one conference to another (and probably die from exhaustion in the process).
There were a few holidays with nothing happening but apart from that, there was a pretty much full calendar.
That discussion took place at a tech conference, of course.
The cancelled conferences are the tip of the iceberg. Tech sectors are starting to hurt as the Covid-19 quarantines start to bite.
To stop the spread of the virus, China has restricted the movements of an estimated 760 million inhabitants. An army of people are enforcing the restrictions as high-tech methods such as facial recognition fail because of respiratory masks covering visages.
This means people can't go to work, which is hitting the myriad of electronics companies that provide parts and assemblies for a vast amount of devices sold around the world.
A high-profile example is electronics giant Foxconn which is Apple's original equipment manufacturer. Foxconn was banned by Chinese authorities from restarting production over the weekend.
With no workers, factories are halting production and supply chains are disrupted. Their order books might be full, but if deliveries are postponed it will create knock-on effects for the wider tech sector and the economy as a whole.
How bad will it get? Keep an eye on conferences and events scheduled to be held by big tech companies the next bit of time. If their events are cancelled too, we could be looking at the tech sector taking a nosedive this year.