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Zero positive Covid-19 cases at pilot business event

Liverpool Public Health officials and scientists have found the city’s pilot events did not cause any detectable spread of Covid-19 across the region.

The city hosted four events as part of the national Events Research Programme (ERP), with a total of 13,258 people attending The Good Business Festival, two nightclub events hosted by Circus and the Sefton Park Pilot music festival.

All attendees were required to take a lateral flow test ahead of the event – a negative test would allow them access. Five people with the Covid-19 virus were identified through this process and were not allowed to attend.

Ticketholders were encouraged to take a PCR test on the day of the event, and a second one five days later.

The process identified four people as possibly having the virus at an event; and a further seven people were identified with the virus four to seven days after they attended an event. Of those who tested positive, two attended the music festival, nine attended the nightclub and none attended the business festival. Many of the cases were friends who met outside of events and may not have been infected at an event itself.

Liverpool Public Health said everyone who tested positive was successfully followed up by the contact tracing team. Scientists found the testing, data and contact tracing systems worked well, with key information being available to public health teams before the events which allowed contacts of potential cases to be traced quickly.

The research team also found that between 25% and 43% of people returned a PCR test after the event, with the Sefton Park Pilot festival seeing three times the number of the other Liverpool pilots due to the incentive of winning tickets to future gigs.  

Every Covid-19 test result for the 2.6m population of Cheshire and Merseyside was examined before and after the events, with 96% of tickets linked to test results. The results showed there was no evidence of any substantial spread of the virus around the pilot events.

The public health and science teams are cautiously optimistic that events can reopen reasonably safely with effective testing in place, and anyone feeling unwell should not attend.

Wearing face coverings or maintaining social distancing were not required at any of Liverpool’s pilot events.

Professor Iain Buchan, Dean of the Institute of Population Health at the University of Liverpool, said the Events Research Programme in Liverpool demonstrated the importance of close working between event organisers, local public health teams and eventgoers in delivering the Covid safety net needed to make events as safe as possible over the coming months.

He added: “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 – a job that teams at Liverpool City Council did extremely well.

 “We identified room for improvements such as ensuring people do not attend if they feel even slightly unwell – not just those with classic symptoms of Covid-19; maximising ventilation even in large indoor spaces; incentives to return PCR tests for research purposes; and automating the issue of tickets only after an assured negative test in the day running up to the event.”