- Last Updated on 22 January 2015
After discussing with key members of the radiocarbon community, the organizing committee of the 22d Radiocarbon Conference is suggesting its postponement to November 16-20, 2015 (from April 13-17, 2015).
This postponement should allay any concern in the radiocarbon community that would be related to the Ebola virus threat in West Africa. It will give us also the opportunity to work even harder to make the next radiocarbon conference (the first to be held in Africa) a remarkably successful one.
In August, Senegal recorded one Ebola case as a result of a cross-border travel of a young man from a neighboring country. The patient has been released since then (and sent back to his home country), completely cured. Contact tracing was made and 67 persons were monitored for the 21-day incubation period after which they all tested negative. No other suspected case has been reported in Senegal following this incident that unfolded more than 70 days ago.
We would like to emphasize that the health system in Senegal is rather well organized with a multi-tiered system that covers the whole country. The Health Department is also used to having nation-wide information campaigns to the population as is needed to raise awareness to Ebola. Its current head is the former Director-General of the United Nations AIDS Division.
We believed that the Ebola threat would not derail the organization of the April conference. Our opinion was based on the currently available information about the disease and the WHO recommendations.
Snippets from the WHO documents:
"The risk of travelers contracting Ebola is considered low because it requires direct contact with bodily fluids or secretions such as urine, blood, sweat or saliva, experts say. Ebola can't be spread like flu through casual contact or breathing in the same air.
Patients are contagious only once the disease has progressed to the point they show symptoms.” (via The New York Times)
"During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are health workers, family members or others in close contact with infected people, mourners who have direct contact with the bodies of the deceased as part of burial ceremonies and hunters in the rain forest who come into contact with dead animals found lying in the forest."
The odds of being in contact with an Ebola-stricken patient are very low (as an evidence, all the people from US, Spain, and other countries infected by the virus were health workers directly in contact with Ebola patients; there is no report of a “normal” foreign visitor being infected). This is even truer in a controllable environment as the one expected for a conference participant (conference halls in a 5-star hotel, accommodation in 3- or 4-star neighboring hotels).
Let’s finally mention two events that show the low impact of the disease in Senegal:
- The University Cheikh Anta Diop hosted in August the biennial 3-week African School of Physics, with nearly 60 students (including one from the US); 45 scientists from US, Canada, Europe, and elsewhere made 3-day to 23-day stays in Dakar to give their lectures.
- The French-speaking countries are holding their every-4-year summit in Dakar in the late November-early December time frame. As of today, there has been no plan for canceling or moving the event.
We suggest to regularly visit the conference site (http://radiocarbone2015.ucad.sn) for updates and to discover bits of Senegal [a very pleasant country known for its hospitality and the friendliness of its population] and get ready to make the trip in November 2015.
The Organizing Committee of the 22nd Radiocarbon Conference
Cheikh Anta Diop University , Dakar, Senegal.