Dear Colleagues and Friends,
2020 has come and gone with a significant impact on all of us. We have all felt the Covid-19 pandemic in our practices, everyday life, and even in the loss of life of friends and family. The year thankfully passed, yet we were welcomed with an even tougher onslaught. The current state of affairs is as bleak if not worse than with the "first wave" last year.
However, it is as if we have become blunted by the relentless social distancing, lack of physical interaction, and "variety" in our lives. As spinal surgeons, we already carry the emotional burden of suffering patients on a day to day basis, and on top of this, we are restricted to our homes and have Zoom and Teams as utilities to reach out.
The society hosted two successful webinars towards the end of last year which were well attended, and very interesting topics were presented and discussed. Even if virtual, it was good to see the familiar names on the attendee list on those days, making us realise what we missed by our annual meeting being side-lined in 2020.
The current Covid-19 numbers seem to indicate a downturn in infection in all provinces, yet there is still a way to go before we breathe more comfortably (or hopefully without masks). Vaccination is a hot topic and we hope this will open the doors for more interaction soon.
The good news is that we will be going ahead with an in-person SASS congress to be held in Cape Town on 20 – 22 May. Our international speakers are very excited to come over (and most are vaccinated already) thus we will have a variety of expertise and opinion coming to our shores and we hope that will be complemented by your participation.
The venue is the Century City Conference Centre and it is of such a size that social distancing and current appropriate regulations will easily be followed (of course we hope that gatherings of more than 50 people will be allowed again in the next few weeks). Our gala dinner will likely be a necessary victim of regulations, but in its place, the exco is already making plans for a variety of social events to ensure safety, but most of all the opportunity for us to catch up, commiserate and laugh together as friends and colleagues. As soon as we have final confirmation from our speakers, we will publish the provisional program and we urge you to register as soon as possible.
We believe the past year's experiences have taken their toll on all of us and reinvented how many things are done, but for us, our meeting is an annual highlight and we look forward to seeing everyone there.
Stay safe and see everyone soon.
Dr Schalk Burger
Prof Ian Vlok