A new Covid variant, BA.5, is on the rise. What does this mean to your upcoming events?
An Omicron offshoot, BA.5, is spreading rapidly and event professionals should take heed as, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this is the most contagious variant yet. It is important to understand that variants like BA.5 are a natural part of the progression of the Covid virus.
Experts stress the best way to prevent new variants is to get vaccinated and boosted. The more people are fully vaccinated, the less opportunity for the virus to spread and mutate.
Early indications signal that BA.5 may have some increased ability to escape immunity, including from prior infections, meaning it has the potential to cause the number of infections to rise in the coming weeks.
Although all indicators point to a surge in infections, the world is better equipped to manage the virus. Regardless, event planners should proceed with caution. Here are some things to keep in mind.
As the CDC has been saying from the start of the pandemic, gathering outdoors is much safer than indoors. This is an airborne virus, and air circulation is critical. If you must gather indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors.
Testing continues to be an important tool to help mitigate the spread of Covid, including BA.5. Many conferences are reinstating rapid tests before gathering.
Experts agree that masking in indoor, public spaces is an essential tool to control the spread of Covid. Resources like the CDC’s Covid Community Levels recommend when to mask in indoor, public spaces. In addition, Epistemix, a computational modeling software company, develops simulations to model the spread of diseases. The company has helped many planners with data projecting the risk of transmission during their events.
For those not up to date on Covid vaccines, staying at least 6 feet from others is advisable.
Hand Washing and Sanitizing
When at a meeting or conference, wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
Spread the Message
Pandemic fatigue is real, and it is crucial to convey to your attendees how contagious BA.5 is. Not only should you stress the importance of a safe and healthy environment for your event in communications before gathering, but signs reminding the importance of hand washing and social distancing should be visible throughout the venue you are meeting.
Clean high-touch surfaces regularly, and be sure the venue you are meeting in has an established and sustained cleaning program.