13 March 2020

ARA ASM cancelled

The the 2020 Australian Rheumatology Association Annual Scientific Meeting, which was scheduled for 16-19 May, was cancelled today.

The conference organisers unanimously recommended cancellation to the ARA board over the last few days.

“The most recent available modelling of the effect of COVID-19 on the Australian community suggests a likely peak of infections in mid-May 2020,” said ARA president Associate Professor Dave Nicholls in a letter to members.

“Many of you will be aware that most hospital and health services have restricted conference leave for their employees, as have many universities, in Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. These restrictions are likely to be in place for some weeks or months.

“Some ARA members have non-rheumatology roles (general medicine, geriatrics, teaching) that may be affected and limit ability to attend the ASM, particularly the effects of quarantine, self-isolation or illness.

“In addition to this advice, the Board considered the welfare of ARA members, and the importance at this time of a healthy workforce. Our patients need us to be ready, willing and able to assist where we can over the weeks and months ahead.

“Many ARA members are small business owners, who are concerned about their own health, and the consequences of business shutdown, in the event of illness, self-isolation or quarantine, the subsequent effect on family members or other staff, and ASM attendee numbers are likely to be low as a result.

“Pharmaceutical companies are rapidly limiting business-related travel and interaction, and have voiced concerns about being able to maintain an appropriate level of presence at the ASM.

“The Board were therefore unanimous in their decision to cancel the 2020 ARA ASM.”

If you were due to present at a conference that has been cancelled, Rheumatology Republic would like to hear from you. We are interested in communicating novel research or ideas to the Australian rheumatology community through our newsletter. Contact felicity@medicalrepublic.com.au