Forty-one delegates registered to attend the IUCN World Parks Congress which concludes at Sydney Olympic Park tomorrow had visas revoked just prior to the meeting.

According to ICMS Australasia GM Emma Bowyer, PCO for the meeting, 41 registered delegates to the IUCN World Parks Congress had their visas revoked by the Australian Government just weeks before the start of the event. Delegates were from a number of the countries on the World Health Organisation’s list of ebola-infected countries.

“Those 41 delegates had registered and paid,” Ms Bowyer said.

“We had to write to those 41 delegates and say they could not attend. They were very upset. Some of them were extremely high-ranking officials.”

Further security measures were undertaken with the organisers having to send a list of delegates attending from African nations to the Immigration Department to ensure that none of these delegates had travelled into an ebola-affected country in the last 21 days. If they had, then they would also not be allowed to travel to Australia.

“On-site we engaged a first aid organisation that was fully briefed on any risks, we had the Westmead Hospital infectious diseases unit on constant standby – with a direct line to the director of that unit.

“At the watercooler stations we had hand sanitizers, and everybody was briefed about symptoms, and what to look for. We had a comprehensive plan in place.”

Despite this, the conference recorded its largest on record, with more than 6000 delegates attending the week-long meeting that is only held every 10 years.

A comprehensive report will appear in the December 2014 edition of micenet AUSTRALIA.

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