Aspen Medical to lead COVID-safe trial for major events

Aspen Medical chairman Glenn Keys at the National Convention Centre, just one of the organisations that have approached the service for assistance. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Aspen Medical chairman Glenn Keys at the National Convention Centre, just one of the organisations that have approached the service for assistance. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

A pilot program looking at how large gatherings such as music concerts and major sporting fixtures could be carried out safely in the age of coronavirus mean the events could be a step closer to returning.

The pilot event is being conducted by Canberra-based health service Aspen Medical, which is collaborating with a major events organiser.

The event will be used to contribute to research that will be passed onto a state or territory government to determine how major events can be conducted in a COVID-safe way.

Aspen Medical founder and executive chairman Glenn Keys said the service would provide clinical and technical support for the pilot event, for which the logistics are still being determined.

"It will look at all the infection and control protocols and how people will flow in before the event, during it and post-event," Mr Keys said.

"The idea would be to do one event and build from there. This is around developing a protocol and that is not to be rushed, [the idea is] to do it in a clear and measured way."

The events company is just one of a multitude of organisations and industries that have approached Aspen for its medical expertise in dealing with the outbreak of coronavirus.

Among them has been Tennis Australia, which recently contacted Aspen to help plan infection prevention measures for the 2021 Australian Open.

The National Convention Centre in Canberra, the Sydney Opera House, Perisher Ski Resort, and the Australian cruising industry along with tourism bodies of Pacific island nations have been just some of the groups that have asked Aspen for medical assistance to manage COVID-19 risks.

Mr Keys said the types of tasks Aspen had been called out to perform in recent months were different to the situation in the early stages of the pandemic.

"In those first few weeks and months, everyone was all-hands-to-the-pump [working on] how to get ready, and if things got worse like in other countries, how to deal with that and make sure people didn't die in hospital," Mr Keys said.

The service's founder said Aspen had also been working with several major Australian universities on how to safely welcome back students from interstate, along with international students.

Discussions with Australian universities about enacting a COVID-safe plan are in their early stages.

Mr Keys expressed optimism that should COVID-19 safety plans for major events such as the Australian Open prove successful, it could pave the way for similar measures to be enacted at larger events in 2021, such as the Olympics.

"We have had a number of international events approach us for support, and all of those are lessons to roll over," he said.

Despite the large number of organisations approaching Aspen for help and the group helping to operate thousands of COVID-19 testing sites, Mr Keys said Aspen wouldn't stretch itself thin.

"The prospect of having all these organisations come to us for help is not daunting but exciting ... there's a real opportunity," he said.

This story Aspen Medical to lead COVID-safe trial for major events first appeared on The Canberra Times.

Comments