After very careful deliberation and consideration, it has been decided that one of the world's most important infectious disease conferences - the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID), scheduled for April 18-21 in Paris - will now be a completely online congress.
The leadership of the society behind the congress, the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) has decided the COVID-19 outbreak presents too great a risk to delegates and staff who would be present onsite at the congress, as well as posing an additional risk to the local population in Paris.
The outbreak is increasingly leading to travel restrictions and reduced travel availability in many parts of the world, and an increasing pressure for infectious diseases and clinical microbiology professionals to remain available at their workplace. Furthermore, Paris is one of the locations particularly struggling with the outbreak, and the French Government has already imposed a ban on public gatherings of no more than 1,000 people, making holding a congress the size of ECCMID (14,000 delegates) logistically impossible.
"Of course, our number one priority is to keep our delegates and anyone associated with our congress safe and reduce their risk of contracting coronavirus, and also avoiding risk for the population," says ESCMID President Professor Jesús Rodríguez-Baño, University Hospital Virgen Macarena, Seville, Spain. "Our goal remains spreading the knowledge and the science to be presented and discussed at ECCMID to the greatest extent possible. With this goal in mind, we have taken the decision to deliver the entire ECCMID programme and congress materials online to all registered delegates and faculty."
"We are making the necessary preparations to livestream as many ECCMID sessions as possible and give speakers and chairs the option to remotely participate in their respective sessions," adds ECCMID Program Director Professor Winfried Kern of the Center for Infectious Diseases & Travel Medicine at University Hospital Freiberg, Germany. "Speakers will also have the possibility to pre-record their talk if needed. Livestreaming will enable active exchange with the audience: speakers will have the possibility to introduce interactive questions in their slides, and the audience to reply using the ECCMID App as well as to ask questions at the end of the talks/session; chairs will moderate the session as usual. We also plan to have a special arrangement for online presentation of posters."