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MARCH 9, 2020 -- Joining a rapidly expanding list of canceled medical congresses, the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) today announced that it has canceled its annual meeting scheduled for March 29-31 in Vienna.
"I am very sad to inform you that EHRA 2020, the scientific congress of the European Heart Rhythm Association...will not proceed as planned," EHRA president Hein Heidbuchel, MD, PhD, announced online to prospective attendees.
Because of COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, Heidbuchel said, "It is clear that severe measures must be prepared, and that physicians and hospitals need to ready themselves to deal with the epidemic," resulting in one third of the congress faculty having canceled their participation within the past few days, with more expected to cancel.
Besides the need for healthcare providers to remain at their home institutions to attend to the expected growing COVID-19 case load, several public health authorities have advised against large gatherings of people to limit virus transmission.
Last year's EHRA congress in Lisbon drew 5552 attendees, of whom 3715 were active delegates.
This year's EHRA decision follows today's cancellation of the joint American College of Cardiology 2020 Scientific Sessions/World Congress of Cardiology meeting that had been scheduled for March 28-30 in Chicago.
The European Society of Cardiology, organizer of the EHRA congress, had previously canceled its first meeting of the year, the Acute Cardiovascular Care Conference that was to take place in Athens this past weekend.
The EHRA is now discussing how to move forward, considering options to postpone the meeting, to deliver some of the planned content online via webinars or other formats, and for dealing with a refund of registration fees.
According to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, as of the afternoon of March 9, there have been 113,584 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, 3996 deaths, and 62,496 patients who have recovered. Because of limitations in reporting, it is likely that these numbers do not take into account all the cases, deaths, or recoveries.
Austria, the planned site of the now scrubbed EHRA meeting, reports 131 confirmed cases, up from 104 just this morning, with no deaths and two recoveries. The epidemic can be followed on an interactive map on the Johns Hopkins website.
For a list of medical conferences affected by COVID-19, click here.