We're writing today to provide an update on the Pint of Science festival this year, specifically in relation to COVID-19.
What's happened? Yesterday morning, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released a statement that declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. In the past two weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases outside of China has increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has tripled.
This news has resonated around the world. However, in the words of the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, "as we fight the virus, we cannot let fear go viral".
What does this change for us in Australia? Actually not too much. The advice from the Australian Government Department of Health has remained consistent: maintain personal hygiene to limit your risk (including hand-washing and sneezing/coughing into the crook of your elbow), and to be wise about self-isolation if you become symptomatic or know you were exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus. Find out more at the Department of Health website.
As of yesterday evening, there have been around 140 confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in Australia. This is still early days for us, and depending on how well we respond as a community will determine how well we manage to avoid the worst impacts of an epidemic here.
What does this change for #PintAU20? Hopefully not too much either. With the limited number of cases in Australia, and with the support of the community and adequate self-isolation, we expect that we will go ahead with Pint of Science on 11-13 May as planned. But we recognise that a lot can change in eight and a half weeks.
It is too soon to accurately predict what will happen over the coming month, especially as the viral spread is so dependent on how well individuals within our community self-identify and isolate.
Therefore, we have made the decision to delay the opening of ticket sales until mid-April, likely after the Easter weekend.
This just gives us the best chance to make the most informed and wise decision.
As we get closer to the festival date, there will be further updates specifically on any precautionary protections we need to put in place. Follow our social channels and make sure to whitelist our emails to keep up to date.
In the meantime, our volunteers are continuing their preparations with local scientists and venues to ensure that #PintAU20 is everything it can be. We are hoping to see you in May to support our volunteers, speakers and the local venues ... with clean hands of course!
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But what about the science? There has been some really excellent science communication happening to help inform the public. Here are a couple of our favourites:
Check out this tweet thread from Australian chemist, Professor Palli Thordarson, in which he explains how soap kills the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19). It's gone a bit viral itself with over 5 million impressions online!
The Australian Academy of Science has released a few videos with experts Professor Robert Booy and Professor Raina MacIntyre, including: what is a pandemic, how does COVID-19 spread, and COVID-19 vs Flu.
You know that alcohol wipes can almost be as good as soap and water to kill the virus, but did you know that they need to be at least 60% alcohol, and if your hands are wet or sweaty they can be less effective? Read more here.
For the most up-to-date, reliable information and advice on COVID-19, refer to the Australian Government Department of Health website.
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Finally, on a positive note, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Directro-General at the World Health Organisation has made numerous statements yesterday highlighting the unique position we are in. For the first time in history, the world has the resources, expertise and technology to stop an epidemic of this nature.
"The best science tells us if countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilise their people in response, we can go a long way to mitigating transmission."
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Thank you once again for your continued support,
The Pint of Science Australia team