An investigation by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) revealed that two attendees knew they were infected with COVID-19 before attending Rage, the nine-day matric end-of-year music festival, in Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal.
The event was held from November 27 to December 4, 2020 and gave rise to 848 positive cases of COVID-19, of which 846 were revellers and two were crew members, according to the NICD.
The institute was alerted to the outbreak on the weekend of 5 – 6 December by a clinician from Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal who reported a high number of COVID-19 cases among young people who attended the event.
“This prompted an investigation to ascertain the existence of a COVID-19 cluster related to attendance of Rage Festival (Rage) and to provide epidemiological characteristics of the cluster,” said the NICD in the report.
The institute conducted a retrospective cohort investigation of the 2253 individuals – 1954 revellers and 299 crew members – present at the event. To retrospectively identify confirmed COVID-19 cases, the institute used multiple data sets including the Rage ticket purchaser record list and the national COVID-19 laboratory-based confirmed cases line list.
“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,” said the NICD. “This indicates lack of discipline and irresponsible risk behaviours amongst revellers as there is little or no adherence to the recommended prevention measures.”
The institute pointed out that the same “lack of discipline” was evident at the “superspreader event” that took place at a party in Tin Roof in Cape Town in October.
“These kinds of entertainment gathering 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 institute.
Several revellers attended events and private parties that were not related to Rage before attending the festival, according to the report and while mask-wearing was mandatory at Rage, it was compromised at most gatherings that were held prior to the festival.
The ages of the individuals surveyed ranged from 16 to 58 years old, with the 15 to 19 year old age group accounting for 802 (94.6%) of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The report also states that masks were not worn at all times during the festival.
“Factors such as mass gathering 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.
Picture: Cape Town ETC Gallery