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Two revellers knew they were Covid-19 positive but still attended Rage parties – NICD

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An investigation by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases has found that at least two attendees of the Matric Rage festival in Durban knowingly attended parties despite testing positive for Covid-19.

Johannesburg – An investigation by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) found that at least two attendees of the superspreader Matric Rage festival in Durban, knowingly attended parties despite testing positive for Covid-19.

The NICD’s monthly communique for January 2021, revealed that the two had tested positive for the Covid-19 virus in mid-November, with their specimen collected on November 17 and 19, respectively.

In December, it was confirmed that the 2020 Matric Rage Festival in KwaZulu-Natal, which had been held between November 28 and December 4, had become a Covid-19 superspreader event.

A Hillcrest-based clinician alerted the NICD to a number of young people testing positive for the virus after attending Rage events.

These had been held at three outdoor events at the Kings Park Stadium and at a pop-up bar at Rage Bar Ballito.

“The investigation revealed that two of the Rage attendees had positive SARS-CoV-2 results before the Rage but still proceeded to attend the event. This indicates a lack of discipline and irresponsible risk behaviours amongst revellers as there is little or no adherence to the recommended prevention measures,” the report said.

The NICD said a similar party at the Tin Roof in Cape Town was also a superspreader event in October.

“These kinds of entertainment gatherings should be deemed unnecessary and be prohibited during the outbreak period as they influence and contribute to the increase in community transmission, undermining mitigation efforts put in place to contain the virus,” said the report.

A number of the Rage revellers said they had attended other gatherings such as The Litchi Party on November 27, which took place at three different bars, and on November 25, there had been another private party organised among revellers.

The NICD conducted an investigation among 2254 festival attendees, including 299 crew members.

The NICD found that 848 people were Covid-19 positive, with 99.8% of those infected being revellers and two (or 0.2%) being crew members who worked during the festival.

By age, those aged between 15-19 accounted for 802 cases and amongst them, 425 of those positive were male.

“Most cases were from Gauteng province (66.2%, 561/848), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (30.0%, 254/848) province.

“An epidemiological curve shows a rapid increase in cases from December 3, with a peak observed on December 7 followed by a gradual decline from December 9,” said the NICD.

The NICD said just 1% of the 1814 attendees responded to their investigation questionnaire, meaning, just 13 of the 1814 attendees gave consent to participate in the study, while 1795 revelers did not respond to the NICD.

The NICD said although mask wearing, sanitizing and social distancing was mandatory at Rage events, this was compromised at most gatherings as revelers took off their masks during the event.

“Factors such as mass gatherings without using appropriate personal protective equipment, crowded spaces, poor hygiene and ventilation, and increased social inhibition due to alcohol consumption, may have produced a conducive environment for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during these gatherings,” said the NICD.

“Non-pharmaceutical interventions such as physical and social distancing, wearing of face mask, frequent hand washing with clean water and soap, and frequent hand sanitization are recommended effective mitigation measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Early identification of superspreader events and initiation of contact tracing to identify close contacts, quarantining of asymptomatic suspected cases/contacts and isolation of symptomatic or asymptomatic laboratory confirmed cases, are crucial for reducing widespread transmission, and containing the outbreak,” the report said.

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