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March 9, 2020 — As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) slowly spreads across the globe, more industry conferences are deciding to cancel their events, many of them offering virtual alternatives. The Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) is the latest to take this precautionary measure.
On March 4, the Seattle and King County Public Health Department issued new public health recommendations to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. Among these recommendations was a request to organizers of large public gatherings to avoid bringing large groups of people together and consider postponing events and gatherings.
Based on these recommendations, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) information, and numerous travel restrictions issued by companies and medical institutions, SIR and SIR Foundation leadership have made the difficult, but necessary and responsible, decision to cancel the SIR 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting in Seattle. The meeting was scheduled for March 28-April 2 in Seattle.
"We have given the situation deep consideration and want to provide all attendees with ample opportunity to manage air travel, hotel reservations and personal schedules. We also want to respect our physicians’ need to be on call back in their own communities and countries," stated a release issued by SIR. "Preparing for the conference involves the time, talent and ideas of a great many of our physician volunteers, speakers, exhibitors and event partners. We’re incredibly grateful for this and deeply disappointed not to be able to postpone or hold the meeting as planned."
COVID-19 Cancels Other Medical Conferences
Last week the large Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual meeting was cancelled just days before it was supposed to open in Orlando, Fla., this week. The decision was made in part because dozens of vendors, including several anchor vendors, started to pull out of the conference. Attendees also started cancelling in large numbers as their hospitals began implementing travel restrictions last week. The hospitals and health systems are preparing for the possibility of outbreaks of the virus in the United States and the hospitals needing to implement emergency plans that include roles for all their staff.
Read the article COVID-19 Cancels HIMSS Health IT Conference
COVID-19 fears also cancelled two European medical conferences last week. The European Society of Radiology announced it is postponing its European Congress of Radiology (ECR) annual meeting that was supposed to take placed March 11-15 in Vienna, Austria. The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) sponsored Acute Cardiovascular Care 2020 conference set for March 7-9, in Athens, Greece, was also cancelled.
See sirmeeting.org to view the full announcement with information about next steps and answers to frequently asked questions.
Additional COVID-19 Resources for Clinicians: