Liverpool pilot events show no detectable spread of coronavirus

More than 13,000 people attended two nightclub events, a music festival and business conference in April and May to test the spread of the virus

Liverpool's trial events 'undoubtedly a success,' public health director Matt Ashton said. AFP
Liverpool's trial events 'undoubtedly a success,' public health director Matt Ashton said. AFP

Four trial events held in Liverpool in April and May did not cause any detectable spread of the coronavirus, the city’s health chief said.

More than 13,000 people attended two nightclub events, a music festival and business conference in April and May.

Eleven people later tested positive for coronavirus, although fewer than half of all those attending returned a PCR test.

Liverpool public health director Matt Ashton said the trials were "undoubtedly a success".

The latest government figures show the city has an infection rate of 7.4 cases for every 100,000 people in the week leading to May 21, down from 9.8 for every 100,000 seven days before.

People who went to the three-day business festival, which began on April 28, the two club nights on April 30 and May 1, or the Sefton Park festival on May 2 did not need to socially distance or wear face coverings.

They were encouraged to take a PCR and lateral flow test on the day of the event and five days later.

Five people were unable to attend after testing positive, four were identified as possibly having the virus at an event and seven had the virus four to seven days after they attended.

Of those who tested positive, two people had been to the gig at Sefton Park and nine had attended the club events.

Mr Ashton said it was "definitely groups of people who were infected afterwards", but they "were known to each other, so it is also possible that those people got it after the events".

Prof Iain Buchan from the University of Liverpool, who assessed the tests, said: "Timely data and quick action to trace and test contacts of people testing positive, both before and after events, was key to containing potential outbreaks."

Prof Buchan said the events had between 25 and 43 per cent of those attending returning a PCR test.

He said scientists and the Liverpool City Council had identified room for improvement, which included maximising ventilation even in large indoor spaces, incentives to return PCR tests for research and issuing tickets only after a negative test the day before the event.

Mr Ashton said reopening the entertainment economy remained "incredibly complex and difficult" but it was also "incredibly important".

He said the data showed lateral flow tests "will be a key part of the jigsaw", but collaboration between promoters, local public health teams "and a range of partners" would also be central to ensuing events ran safely.

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Updated: May 27, 2021 02:30 AM

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