A business conference focusing on coronavirus has reportedly been cancelled to avoid spreading the virus.
The Council on Foreign Relations has canceled a roundtable called “Doing Business Under Coronavirus” scheduled for Friday in New York due to the spread of the deadly virus.
CFR has also canceled other in-person conferences that were scheduled from March 11 to April 3, including roundtables in New York and Washington and national events around the U.S.
The CFR’s confabs are joining a long list of canceled or postponed gatherings, including the official meeting of the International Nidovirus Symposium which was postponed to 2021.
The Nidovirus Symposium which happens only once every three years, was set to take place this May 10 to 14 in the Netherlands. The plan for this year’s gathering was to exchange information about coronavirus and work towards a solution.
In an email sent to Quartz, Marjolein Kikkert, a microbiologist at the Leiden University Medical Center who was leading the conference’s planning committee, said she and the planning committee were hoping they could avoid cancelling the meeting in order to exchange as much information as possible—especially about the new coronavirus circulating.
Unfortunately, her hopes were dashed as attendees were hesitant about registering.
Kikkert said to the publication: “We started noticing that people were hesitating to register due to all the uncertainty. The expanding outbreak in Europe in the last week made us feel we should take responsibility and set the good example as coronavirologists to not further spread the virus ourselves.”
“Nidovirus” is an order of viruses that includes coronaviruses, like SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus going around now), SARS-CoV (severe acute respiratory syndrome, which emerged in 2003), and MERS (Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome, which emerged in 2012). The order also includes arteriviruses, a group that can infect horses, pigs, monkeys, and mice; and roniviruses, a group that can infect shellfish.
Usually, attendees would present research, find collaboration opportunities, and get to know other members of a relatively small field within microbiology.
The group is still trying to figure out if they can share information remotely some time in May, although it would be a challenge because some of the attendees were planning to come from China; time differences complicate the scheduling.
Normally, about 150 to 200 scientists attend the meeting, according to Bart Haagmans, virologist at Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, who was also planning the meeting. Kikkert hopes that, by postponing the physical meeting, the conference next year can have even more attendees.