Neurology conferences face cancellation due to COVID-19


By Mardi Chapman

11 Mar 2020

It’s a gloomy outlook for medical conference fans this year with many major events being cancelled or postponed due to the threat of coronavirus.

Stroke specialists expecting to take part in the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Annual Scientific Sessions set for March 28 – 30 in Chicago have been told it has been cancelled due to increasing concerns about the outbreak of COVID-19.

However at this stage, local and international neurology meetings remain unaffected. 

Locally, ANZAN is monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and is continuing with plans to hold their 2020 annual scientific meeting in Melbourne in May. 

“However safety of delegates will be our chief concern and we will keep updating this site if the situation changes,” a statement on the conference website said.

Overseas, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) is soldiering ahead with their Annual Meeting scheduled to start April 25 in Toronto.

Hand sanitisers and microphone covers will be in while handshakes will be out, a statement on the conference website said.

“At this time we continue to actively monitor the impact of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus), and also continue to actively prepare for what we do best – putting on the world’s best neurology conference.” 

But whether Australians will be allowed to or want to travel to the meeting remains to be seen. 

Already WA has banned their public sector employees from non-critical, work-related international travel.

And given the national response to COVID-19 is ramping up through the National Coordination Mechanism, public hospital-based clinicians in other states and territories might find themselves similarly affected. 

Neurologist and Dean of Medicine at Griffith University Professor Simon Broadley told the limbic it would seem sensible to avoid all large gatherings at the moment, particularly where delegates were arriving from many destinations nationally or internationally. 

“However, I think that the key determinant for these events will be insurance implications. It is going to become impossible to get travel insurance for overseas travel to almost anywhere. The third party insurance for the organisers is also likely to be prohibitive,” he said. 

And it may be a case of technology to the rescue – at least for people who are prevented from attending the 6th Congress of the European Academy of Neurology scheduled for Paris from May 23. 

“For those who cannot attend due to travel restrictions or increased clinical duties, we are pleased to inform you that the EAN Congress is a fully online meeting and can be attended from anywhere in the world via our platform,” EAN said.

It said the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) considered the current risk in the EU/EEA and the UK to be moderate to high. 

“However, this is a highly dynamic and evolving situation. The effectiveness of measures recently implemented by public health authorities throughout Europe will only become apparent in the coming weeks.”

UPDATE: AAN has now been cancelled.

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