News April 30, 2021

No COVID transmission at European test concert, researchers report

No COVID transmission at European test concert, researchers report
Palau Sant Jordi arena/ Facebook

While Australian authorities keep live music venues limited to 50% to 75% capacity to stop COVID transmissions, a test concert of 5,000 in Barcelona, Spain, has demonstrated it could be safe.

Scientists held a press conference in Barcelona this week to announce that no higher levels of infection were detected at a test show held a month ago.

Only six music fans reported testing positive 15 days later. But doctors said that in the case of four, they were “certain” transmission didn’t happen at the show, and “a very high probability” the transmissions of the two others had occurred elsewhere.

“In summary, a live music concert in a covered enclosure with the correct measures and ventilation is a safe activity,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Josep Maria Llibre told media.

“There is no sign that suggests that transmission took place during the event, which was the objective of this study.”

Llibre added the study shows “we can guarantee a safe space” for spectator events with optimised ventilation, testing, and masks.

For 14 months, concerts, exhibitions and sporting events were axed or held without audiences throughout Europe.

Authorities allowed the limited capacity show at the 17,000-seat Palau Sant Jordi arena, by local indie band Love of Lesbian, to go on as part of a series of tests to find options to hold public gatherings.

The show sold out immediately. Six fans tested positive within 14 days of attending the gig, but the incidence was lower than that seen in the general population.

The €23-€28 (AUD$35.85—43.65) ticket price included a mask and a pre-concert antigen test.

The latter was carried out in three locations around Barcelona by 80 nurses wearing full personal protective equipment.

They were advised by an app on their phone within 15 minutes. Of the first 2,400 fans tested, three tested positive and one had come into contact with a positive case, said Dr. Libre, who oversaw the testing.

They were banned from the show and had their money refunded.

Inside the arena, fans had to wear masks except when they ate and drank in designated areas but could sing, dance and hug each other.

They were restricted to the dance floor and could not enter the stands, and patron usage of toilets and bars was limited.

“Welcome to one of the most moving concerts of our lives,” singer Santi Balmes, told the sea of masks to loud cheers.

“It’s been a year and a half since we last set foot on a stage as a band. This is so. … some of the musicians are crying over here.”

Of the six who tested positive, researchers concluded that four of them were infected elsewhere, not at the event itself.

Concert co-organiser Jordi Herreruela opined it was safer to be in the concert than out in the street. “There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

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