March 2020

To the Ministers of Health,
Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides,
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control


COVID-19 epidemic crisis – ESR calls for strengthened approach safeguarding public health and guaranteeing legal certainty across Member States

The European Society of Radiology (EU Transparency register number: 478131313572-40) calls upon the Member State health authorities, the European Institutions, in particular Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) to act responsively and in the interest of public health in face of the COVID-19 outbreak across Europe.

After careful evaluation of the spreading COVID-19 epidemic, the European Society of Radiology (ESR) decided on Tuesday 3 March to postpone its flagship event, the European Congress of Radiology (ECR) to 15-19 July 2020. The organisation came to the conclusion that the recommendations for safety at large-scale events restrained its capacity to carry out the congress in an effective and secure manner. Bearing in mind that the European Society of Radiology considers the safety, health and well-being of attendees and partners its priority number one, in full compliance with its statutes and procedures.

Taking note of the Rapid Risk Assessment update published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on 2 March, the ESR believes that any mass gathering akin to the ECR “may lead to the introduction of the virus into the community hosting the event and/or facilitate virus transmission and spread”. 

The ESR strongly encourages institutional actors and the EU ministers of health, gathering on Friday 6 March in Brussels to discuss the latest developments of the COVID-19 outbreak, to agree on a coordinated and common approach putting public health first and strengthening legal certainty for organisations affected by circumstances beyond their will and control. Citing the measures implemented by the French and Swiss national authorities, governments are presumed to act in the interest of any citizen residing on their territory. Foremost, the ESR urges national health authorities to step up the exchange of information and to adapt the implementation of risk-averse measures to regional and national circumstances, e.g. cancellation of mass gatherings and travel restrictions. In this respect, the radiology profession considers proximity to outbreak hotspots and affected regions an exceptional condition which should take precedence over any other consideration.

Concretely, the ESR calls on the EU ministers of health to:

  • Discuss a common framework upholding legal certainty for affected organisations acting in the interest of public health
  • Discuss a common approach to adapt contingency measures to national and regional circumstances strongly considering proximity to risk areas and the ‘power of the number’
  • Enhance the exchange of information to contain the spread of the virus and define a framework for justified travel restrictions
  • Take into account recommendations issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the ECDC in relation to any proposed actions

More than ever, the radiology community is committed to contributing with expertise and high-quality medical services to diagnose and treat patients with COVID-19 infections, exemplified by the last-minute setup of a session on the COVID-19 outbreak at the ECR 2020 which will be virtually organised to fully exploit the potential of a joint effort bringing together radiologists, pulmonologists, immunologists, and patients. In these turbulent times, the ESR will stand by its mission to prioritise public health, patient safety and clinical practice.


Prof. Lorenzo Derchi                                                   Prof. Boris Brkljacic

Chairman of the ESR Board of Directors                   ESR President



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