Fears and travel restrictions due to the coronavirus has caused two European medical conferences to postpone their meetings so far in 2020.
March 3, 2020 — Two sizable European medical conferences in cardiology and radiology were canceled today as fears continue to mount over the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The European Society of Radiology announced it is postponing its European Congress of Radiology (ECR) 2020 annual meeting that was supposed to take placed March 11-15 in Vienna, Austria. COVID-19 fears also shut down the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) sponsored Acute Cardiovascular Care 2020 conference that was supposed to take place this weekend, March 7-9, in Athens, Greece.
Some vendors are also looking to pull out of some larger medical conferences, including HIMSS and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) out of fears for their employees health.
The European acute cardiocascular meeting is for specialists dealing with cardiac patients in the acute setting. Attendees can learn, exchange and update skills at the annual congress of the Acute Cardiovascular Care Association of the ESC. The meeting has more than 1,000 participants from over 70 countries. It included more than 60 sessions and workshops, including hands-on sessions.
"As you have no doubt seen in the news, the novel coronavirus has been spreading in Europe," Susanna Price, M.D., MBBS, Ph.D, president of the Acute CardioVascular Care Association and a consultant cardiologist and intensivist, Royal Brompton Hospital, London. of the ESC. "It means that many of you have been prevented from traveling because of restrictions imposed by your national health authorities or your individual medical institutions. Your health and safety are of the greatest priority to us. You have a vital role to play throughout the year but especially now, during the spread of the coronavirus. Most of the reported deaths from COVID-19 have been in patients with underlying cardiovascular disease."
Price said they are exploring the possibility of rescheduling the congress for a later date and will publish updates on its website.
ECR is the second largest radiology/medical imaging conference in tech world. The ECR 2020 meeting has been postponed until July 15-19, 2020. The society said registration fees for the event as well as for the online services will remain in place for the new congress date. Registration for ECR 2020 remains open, the society said.
"After careful evaluation of the spreading coronavirus epidemic, and considering the recent statements issued by the WHO and the ECDC, and the related evolving world-wide restrictions and crisis, the ESR was forced to make this decision," Boris Brkljačić, M.D., Ph.D., ESR president and a radiologists at the Klinička bolnica Dubrava, Croatia. "Above all, we have analyzed the recommendations from the Austrian health authorities for large-scale events and came to the conclusion that we are not in a position to fullfil their requirements and guarantee a safe congress for our participants and industry partners at this time. The safety, health and well-being of our delegates and partners will always be the highest priority for the ESR."
The global congress ECR meeting has about 28,500 attendees from more than 130 countries. The ESR has more than 121,608 members from 182 countries.
ACC and SCAI Monitoring Coronavirus But Conferences are Still a Go
The American College of Cardiology (ACC) annual meeting will take place as scheduled from March 28-30 in Chicago, the college said in a statement on the conference website. The ACC reminded attendees in the statement that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to rate the health risk for the general American public as low at this time.
"The health, well-being and safety of ACC.20 attendees is of the utmost priority and the ACC continues to closely monitor health and safety updates and recommendations issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC, as well as state and local health organizations," ACC said in a statement on the conference website.
In Chicago, the ACC said it is collaborating with the McCormick Place Convention Center, the city of Chicago and other conference stakeholders to assess risk and develop an onsite readiness and reaction plan. Expect increased hand sanitizer stations, attendee educational materials on ways to minimize risk, and more. The ACC will continue to post updates as more information is available.
Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) also issued a message to members this week saying the society is monitoring the COVID-19 situation, but still plans to host its annual meeting May 13-16, 2020, in Atlanta.
"We will continue to monitor health guidance and recommendations issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC has currently deemed the health risk of coronavirus for the general American public to be low at this time," SCAI stated.
HIMSS Conference Monitoring COVID-19 Outbreak Closely, Some Vendors Pulling Out
The massive Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) health IT conference, one of the largest healthcare meetings in the world, is set for March 9-13 in Orlando, Fla. HIMSS has been monitoring to coronavirus situation for the past couple weeks, sending updates at registered attendees.
HIMSS has about 1,300 exhibiting companies across a vast show floor. Of these, several large combines decided this week to pull out of the conference because of concerns about employees health and potential travel issues. Among a couple dozen companies that have announced they are pulling out are Siemens Healthineers, IBM, Amazon, Change Healthcare, Cisco, DellEMC, HL7, Humana, Intel, Pure Storage, Roche, Visage Imaging, Vocera, Wolters Kluwer and others.
In addition to the handful of companies that have decided not to attend HIMSS, several healthcare systems have told their employees not to attend HIMSS because if an outbreak of coronavirus occurs, they will be needed at the hospital to help implement emergency plans.
Siemens Healthcare, one of the large vendors on the expo floor, decided to pull out of the conference due to safety concerns over the spread of COVID-19. Siemens decided to withdraw from all exhibits and trade shows globally for the month of March, including the ACC meeting March.
"Over the last week, COVID-19 coronavirus has become a global topic of concern," HIMSS wrote in a statement to attendees. "Our top priority remains the health and safety of all participants at HIMSS20, including attendees, exhibitors, market suppliers, staff, industry partners, and others involved in the HIMSS Global Health Conference and Exhibition,
Given the dynamic nature of this situation, HIMSS said it assembled an external panel of medical professionals to develop evidence-based decision-making and to ensure the safety of the healthcare community currently planning to attend HIMSS20.
HIMSS said its 2020 meeting will be a handshake-free meeting. "We recommend the HIMSS elbow tap," HIMSS suggested in a statement to attendees March 3.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis directed State Health Officer and Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees to declare a public health emergency in Florida on March 1, 2020. Under Florida law, public health emergencies can be declared when there are threats that could result in substantial harm to public health. Such threats can include infectious diseases and even natural disasters. The declarations help free up government resources to focus on responding to the health situation.
HIMSS said in the statement that as of March 3, Florida remains open for business with careful monitoring of the situation. As of March 3, Orlando resorts and parks remain open and operational.
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