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.
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.
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.
HIMSS Conference Monitoring COVID-19 Outbreak Closely
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.
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.
Additional Coronavirus Resources for Clinicians: