Several eye care conferences and events in Australia have been cancelled in response to the most recent information regarding COVID-19, handed down by State and Federal Chief Medical Officers regarding non-essential large gatherings in excess of 500 people.
OSHOW2020, the boutique exhibition organised by the Optical Dispensers and Manufacturers Association (ODMA), has been cancelled. OSHOW was due to take place from 16–17 May in Sydney.
ODMA CEO Finola Carey said, “We are saddened that the event will not proceed due to the COVID-19 crisis, and apologise for any inconvenience and difficulty this may cause. However, the health and wellbeing of our members, exhibitors, customers and the broader community has to be our major concern and is the reason for cancelling the event.”
She said that with no known end date to the Government’s ban on gatherings of 500+, there are no plans for an alternative event in Sydney in 2020.
WAVE, the annual conference organised by Optometry Western Australia (OWA), which was to take place in Fremantle has also been cancelled.
Alcon has taken the decision to reschedule its FOCUS and OptimEYES meetings, scheduled for 28 & 29 March 2020. An alternate date is to be announced.
Additionally, NACBO – the annual national conference for the Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists (ACBO) – which was due to take place on the Gold Coast from 6–7 June has been postponed until further notice.
The Orthokeratology Society of Oceania (OSO) has postponed the 6/6 2020 OSO Conference with no new dates advised at this stage. It was scheduled for 5–7 June.
AVC to be Livestreamed
The annual conference for Optometry Queensland/Northern Territory (OQNT) – Australian Vision Convention (AVC) – will be livestreamed from 4–5 April. Cathryn Baker, CEO of OQNT, said optometrists who attend the virtual conference will be eligible for face to face CPD points.
“OQNT has decided to move forward with the AVC2020 VIRTUAL as we wanted optometrists to have a great CPD option with an excellent program. It is important in these uncertain times that optometrists have choices where they can… We are busy executing the change in direction and are committed to delivering a quality event.”
Optometrists who have registered to attend the convention should email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange their online participation.
Registration fees have been reduced for the online conference. Partial refunds will be made to those who have paid the full registration fee in advance. Refunds are also available to optometrists who choose not to take up the online streamlining option.
International events Cancelled and Postponed
Several international events have been cancelled or postponed including MIDO in Milan, SEMO in Auckland, Vision East Expo in New York, the Daegu International Optical Show in Korea, and the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in Baltimore USA.
Mido, which was to take place from 29 February to 2 March is now scheduled to proceed from 5–7 July.
Vision East Expo, scheduled for 26–29 March will now be consolidated with Vision Expo West in Las Vegas from 23 –26 September.
SEMO, the 16th Scientific and 10th Educators’ Meeting in Optometry (SEMO), which was to be hosted by the School of Optometry and Vision Science (SOVS), University of Auckland, from 16–18 April has been cancelled.
The Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO), which was to be held from 22–26 April in Xiamen, China, has been re-scheduled for 5–9 August 2020.
ARVO, which was due to take place from 3–7 May, has been cancelled with no alternative dates announced.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has strongly recommended that people who are unwell with cough or fever or other respiratory symptoms should not attend public events or gatherings. This is particularly so for people who have recently travelled from overseas.
People who have been a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19, or who returned from or transited through a listed higher risk country, must not attend public gatherings until 14 days after leaving the country or having contact with a confirmed case even if they are completely symptom free. Those undergoing COVID-19 testing also must not attend public gatherings until they have received their results.
Travel advice and guidelines vary according to location. Prospective conference attendees should check the latest travel advice and entry guidelines prior to travel. State and Territory Health departments, the World Health Organisation and Smart Traveller websites have comprehensive information available online.