Events, Local, News

‘Risks are simply too high’: RANZCO switches to virtual-only for 52nd congress

For a third time, COVID-19 risks have prompted RANZCO to change its plans for the upcoming scientific congress, with the February conference now to be held as a virtual-only event.

This week, the RANZCO board and staff, chair of the Scientific Program Committee and team from Think Business Events met to discuss the format of the 52nd annual congress, which was scheduled to take place 25 February to 1 March 2022.

It comes as daily COVID-19 cases soar across the country, with the host state Queensland recording around 34,000 cases in a 24 hour-period this week. Victoria is recording around 37,000 daily cases, while New South saw numbers exceed 92,000. But the true number is likely higher due to an overwhelmed testing network.

“The decision has been made to run the congress as a virtual event. There has been an overwhelming desire to run the congress as a hybrid event and we are aware that everyone is looking forward to meeting in person,” RANZCO head of member support Ms Alex Arancibia said.

“The RANZCO board have waited until the 11th hour to make this decision to afford all possible chances of a face-to-face meeting. However, the risks are simply too high.”

With roughly six weeks until the event, Aranciaba said organisers would now be working hard to deliver a virtual congress that does justice to the high calibre of invited speakers and submitted courses, symposia, papers, posters, films and audits.

The congress will now run Saturday 26 February through to midday on Tuesday 1 March.

This latest round of disruption marks the third time that the college has postponed a face-to-face congress, which was originally slated for October 2020 before being pushed out to the now ill-fated November 2021 and February 2022 dates. It’s now been more than two years since an in-person conference was held.

Interestingly, the college confirmed its congress booking at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre remains in place and the 53rd Congress will be hosted there from Friday 28 October to Tuesday 1 November 2022.

For delegates who booked an in-person registration for Brisbane, it will be automatically transferred to a virtual congress registration. If the registration is already paid, there will be a partial refund for the difference between the booked registration, and the equivalent virtual ticket.

Social events will not proceed, and refunds will be issued for these. More information can be found at on the event page.

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