Several major diabetes and endocrinology conferences have been cancelled and others hang in the balance as organisers and employers weigh up the risk of coronavirus infection for mass gatherings of health professionals.
The US Endocrine Society’s ENDO 2020 meeting planned for March 28-31, in San Francisco, California has been cancelled. The Society said: “With an ever-increasing number of our members on the front lines of preparing and reacting to the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide, it is in the best interest of everyone to cancel the meeting.”
The UK’s major diabetes conference, organised by Diabetes UK has been cancelled after being due to start in Glasgow on March 18, with organisers saying that after a detailed risk assessment they decided hospitals could not afford to put any staff of risk of infection or quarantine when the health system needed to be fully prepared to mount a response to COVID 19
“We do not believe it would be right or responsible to proceed with holding the conference when the NHS is in such need of its expert workforce. Equally we are mindful of our responsibility to support efforts to delay the spread of COVID19 across the UK,” they said.
Similarly the organisers of the 17th Asia-Oceania Congress of Endocrinology have cancelled their meeting due to take place from 15-18 April 2020 in Seoul, South Korea, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
The American Diabetes Association says it is “actively evaluating” the coronavirus situation in relation to its ADA 80th Scientific Sessions which are still scheduled to take place, as planned on June 12-16, 2020 in Chicago.
“The ADA continues to takes the health and safety of attendees seriously and will take all necessary steps to create a safe environment for everyone attending the Scientific Sessions,” it said.
The organisers of the World Congress on the Menopause, due to take place in Melbourne from 30 April are also reviewing the situation given that many countries have imposed travel restrictions and also some healthcare institutions have banned their staff from international travel.
“This is an unprecedented state of affairs which continues to evolve rapidly,” said Professor Susan Davis, an endocrinologist at Monash University who is president of the International Menopause Society
“We are carefully monitoring global circumstances and examining the impact of any changes on the Congress. In order that you are fully informed I will provide frequent updates.”
The Australasian Diabetes Congress is scheduled for 26 August in Brisbane, but registration has not yet opened. The Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA) and the Australian Diabetes Society (ADS) say they are actively monitoring the situation with COVID-19 and will respond to the situation as it evolves.
Likewise the 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting of the Endocrine Society of Australia (ESA) is nine months away, and will be held in Christchurch, New Zealand, in November in conjunction with the New Zealand Society for Endocrinology (NZSE), the Society for Reproductive Biology (SRB)and the Australian Paediatric Endocrine Group (APEG).
In Europe the organisers of the annual conference of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) say they are “confidently working” on the meeting that will run from 21-25 September in Vienna, Austria.
Meanwhile, healthcare organisations are also banning their medical staff from attending overseas conferences. WA Health has announced a ban on work-related international travel for staff due to the international outbreak of COVID-19.
“In order to protect our staff and patients, WA Health has decided to extend this ban to include all funded international work-related travel, including sponsored travel,” it said.
Last week it was reported that two NSW doctors infected with coronavirus had attended a radiology seminar with up to 70 other doctors. Health authorities are trying to trace the other doctors at the meeting but they said it was already more than 14 days since the meeting and no doctors had presented with coronavirus symptoms.
[This story was updated on Tuesday 10 March to reflect the announcement of ENDO 2020 cancellation late on Monday after we published the initial story].