My professional background is as a doctor, and specifically an infectious diseases registrar, I thought I’d email you about the issue.

Whilst I may be wrong, unfortunately I think the COVID-19 situation is going to escalate over the next few weeks, and that this is a very sensible question to be asking. There is a bit of data coming out suggesting that it’s possible to have a positive result and to have the potential to transmit in the setting of minimal symptoms, or prior to symptom onset. This means being sick is not enough of an indicator, and that community transmission is likely to increase significantly unless considerable measures are put in place.

Sadly I would recommend cancelling Big Camp this year (both Victorian and interstate). I think the risk of someone there having COVID-19 is high, and putting aside the health risk to older people especially for a second, if it happens then the church is guaranteed to end up on the news for it. Best case example is Korea, and the criticism the church there received in being blamed for some of the spread occurring there.

It is also worth considering the local church. As this continues there is likely to come a point that all large social gatherings are recommended to be cancelled, and social distancing implemented. It may be worthwhile praying about, discussing and considering options at the moment: (these may not be needed just yet, but the next few weeks will be telling, and it may be worth being proactive rather than needing to be reactive)

– Skype/online sermons

– ongoing local attendance (for well individuals only – requesting anyone unwell with fever or flu like symptoms to remain at home) with increased distancing (space out the gaps between chairs and rows). etc.