UK North Sea trade association Oil & Gas UK (OGUK) is postponing some of its events — including the key Share Fair due to take place in Aberdeen on 24 March — as a precaution to "minimise uncertainty and costs" for delegates in light of the spread of coronavirus.

The Share Fair, which gives suppliers the chance to get a view of operators' work plans, is now set to take place on Wednesday 16 September, OGUK said in an email sent to delegates on Tuesday and seen by Upstream.

Other events taking place between the end of March and 12 May that entail "significant networking, travel or include international delegates" will also be affected.

These are:

• Doctors’ Training Workshop, 1 April, Aberdeen

• D&I Conference, 23 April, Aberdeen

• Examining Doctors’ Conference, 7 May, London

Gareth Wynn, OGUK’s stakeholder and communications director, said: “We are continuing to work closely with our members to circulate official advice on coronavirus from the relevant agencies and will continue to work across the sector to help ensure the health of people in the oil and gas industry.

“Our more imminent business outlook breakfast briefing events in both Aberdeen and London are expected to go ahead as planned as they attract primarily local audiences and run for a short duration with more limited contact between delegates, however we will continue to monitor the situation and any advice from the health authorities.

“We will also be communicating additional guidance to all delegates in advance of these events to help mitigate the potential spread of the virus.”

OGUK said it wanted to "minimise uncertainty and costs for attendees" whilst also allowing a "window of time for the organisation to monitor any developing health risk associated with the spread of the virus".

Meanwhile, the UK unveiled a “battle plan” to tackle the spread of coronavirus on Tuesday, warning that as many as a fifth of employees could be off work at the peak of the outbreak, according to the Reuters news agency.

The UK has so far confirmed 51 cases of the virus, also known as Covid-19, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “highly likely” the country would see a growing number of cases.

The government’s plan includes possible school closures, home working and cancelling large-scale gatherings to slow the spread of the outbreak. Businesses could be given extra time to pay their taxes if they are facing short-term, cash flow issues.

“This is a national challenge ... I think we’ll get through it in very good shape,” Johnson told a news conference alongside England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty and the government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance.

The government said its strategy was aimed at delaying the peak of the outbreak until the summer when the health service is under less seasonal pressure. This would also allow more time for the possible development of vaccines.

Options include discouraging unnecessary travel as part of what it called a “social distancing” strategy, delaying non-urgent healthcare, and drafting in retired health workers, Reuters said.