World's biggest physics meet cancelled amid COVID-19 fears

The American Physical Society was scheduled to meet in Denver, Colarado on March 2-6, 2020  

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 03 March 2020

One of the world's largest annual physics conferences was cancelled due to “rapidly escalating health concerns relating to the spread of COVID-19”, the Nature journal reported on March 2, 2020.

The meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) was scheduled to take place in Denver, Colarado from March 2-6, 2020.

Organisers of the gathering took to Twitter on February 29:

The official letter of cancellation by the APS read:

It is with deep regret that we are informing you of the cancellation of the 2020 APS March Meeting in Denver, Colorado. The decision to cancel was based on the available scientific data on COVID-19, and the fact that a large number of attendees at this meeting were coming from outside the US, including countries where the CDC upgraded its warning to level 3.

The APS was formed in 1899 and is the world’s biggest organisation of physicists. Its March meeting is one of the most important annual physics events, which sees participation of thousands of scientists.

Hundreds of registered participants had already arrived in Denver on February 29 when they received an e-mail from the APS.

According to Nature, the decision to cancel the conference was APS’ own — it did not communicate directly with the United States’ authorities such as the Center for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to APS chief executive Kate Kirby, CDC on February 29 upgraded Italy and South Korea to the highest level of travel warning, which sparked fears of the spread of the virus.

“At least 500 participants were scheduled to arrive from countries that were now a ‘hotspot for contagion’,” Nature reported Kirby as saying.

However, she added she did not know how many participants from ‘at risk’ countries had flown to Denver.

The APS said it would refund registration fee of all participants, Nature reported.

Among other scientific conferences that were cancelled due to coronavirus fears included the European Society for Medical Oncology in Paris, and the European Lunar Symposium, planned for mid-May in Padua, Italy.

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