5 hours ago
Indoor concerts, subject to a number of safety measures, can be safe and not lead to infection with Covid-19, according to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
The study involved 465 people who attended a music concert. In total, there were about 900 people in the hall. After the event, none of the participants in the experiment contracted Covid-19, the researchers said.
Before the start of the concert, all participants in the experiment underwent LFT tests (rapid tests for coronavirus): everyone who had negative tests went to the event.
Participants in the experiment were allowed to dance and sing during the concert, and social distance was not required.
However, all of them had to not take off their N95 masks until the end of the event. Also, the organizers of the concert ensured good ventilation of the room: all the doors and windows of the room were open. The organizers made sure that spectators were not crowded in the hall and other premises.
Food and drinks were sold in the bar, which was separated from the concert area, visitors could go outside to smoke. While unmasked in a bar or on the street, participants in the experiment had to maintain a social distance.
The concert the participants went to took place at the Sala Apolo in Barcelona, which usually seats about 900 spectators.
The concert lasted five hours, on average, the participants in the experiment spent two hours and forty minutes in the hall.
All study participants were required to install two mobile applications: one to track possible contacts with infected individuals, and the other to enter information about testing and fill out questionnaires for health and well-being.
Observation of the participants in the experiment continued for 10 days before the event and for 10 days after it.
An experiment in which study participants attended a concert took place in Barcelona on December 12 last year. Then in the city and in the country there was a decline in the incidence, there were about 221 cases of infection for every 100 thousand of the population.
However, some restrictive measures continued to apply in the country: in a number of regions of the country, no more than six people (from different households) could gather indoors, and the coronavirus vaccine was not yet available at that time.
“Our research shows that music concerts, when the necessary safety measures are taken everywhere, can take place without the risk of spreading coronavirus infection,” says Josep Llibre, one of the study’s lead authors from the University Hospital of the Trias and Pujol Brothers (Badalona).
He also noted that one should not lose sight of the fact that the experiment was carried out during a period of relatively calm epidemiological conditions.
As Llibre emphasizes, the data from this study may be incorrect for any other epidemiological situation: during a sharp increase in infections or when other more infectious variants of coronavirus infection are spreading.
According to the scientist, further research is required in this direction, taking into account the use of other combinations of protective measures and with the participation of more people.
“Mass events are usually associated with a higher risk of the spread of coronavirus infection, and the decisions to cancel such events played an important role and helped bring the pandemic under control. However, the cancellation of mass events entailed serious financial losses: only in Spain, these losses are estimated at 5.5 billion dollars “, – says one of the authors of the study, Boris Revollo.
According to him, now it is important to find a combination of anti-epidemiological measures, subject to which mass events can still be carried out without causing an increase in the incidence.
In this experiment, the authors of the study hoped that the spread of coronavirus infection during a concert would be avoided by using masks of a fairly high degree of protection and by testing for coronavirus infection 30 minutes before the concert.
In addition to the group that took part in the experiment, there was a control group of 495 people. Participants in the control group also took the coronavirus test and did not attend the concert, instead they had to go home and go about their daily activities. During the study, two cases were identified in the control group.
All participants in the study – both those who went to the concert and from the control group – were between the ages of 18 and 59. Those who tested positive for coronavirus or those who had been in contact with the sick person shortly before the experiment, as well as those who have people at risk (elderly relatives) living in the house, were not allowed to participate in the study.
The study authors also took into account that the participants in the experiment, due to the very fact of participation in the study, could behave more cautiously than usual under the same conditions. However, all participants in the survey stated that their behavior was not affected by participation in the experiment and they behaved as usual.
Scientists also note that this type of organization is not suitable for all public events. They write that for some rooms, providing the necessary security measures will be expensive.
In addition, it is very difficult to organize testing of several thousand spectators a couple of hours before the event, the researchers note.