Almost 5,000 Covid cases may be linked to Cornwall music and surf festival

Almost 5,000 Covid-19 cases are thought to be linked to a music and surf festival held in Cornwall earlier this month.

Health officials are currently investigating 4,700 cases after the Boardmasters event a fortnight ago, with the cases now spread across the country.

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At a glance: 5 key points

- Those who tested positive for Covid-19 reported that they had attended the festival which was held between 11 and 15 August in the Newquay area.

- While cases stretch across the UK, around 800 are living in Cornwall, according to a council official.

- The festival, which included headliners Foals and Gorillaz, required all ticket holders aged 11 and over to demonstrate their Covid-19 stats before entering via the NHS Covid Pass app.

- As such, if attendees could not show proof of a negative lateral flow test taken within 24 hours of arrival, proof of proof of vaccinated with both doses - with the second received at least 14 days before the event - or proof of natural immunity from a PCR test, they would not be allowed to enter. The PCR test is only valid if it has been at least 10 days and up to 180 days after receiving a positive result.

- Those who camped at the festival were required to take a second NHS lateral flow test during the event on Friday 13 August and record their results on the app. Attendees had to bring their own tests to take and face masks were not compulsory, although festival goers were encouraged to wear them.

What’s been said

Public Health England has said that some people who tested positive for coronavirus reported that they began developing symptoms after attending the festival.

Professor Mike Wade, deputy regional director and NHS regional director of public health for Public Health England South West, said: “We are working with colleagues at Cornwall Council to monitor what impact the Boardmasters Festival may have had on Covid case numbers, and we are starting to see cases reporting that they attended the event prior to developing symptoms or testing positive.

“We will continue to monitor the data closely as we have throughout the pandemic.”

Mr Wade warned that people should be cautious when mixing with others and encourage anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to get their jab.

He also encouraged people to take a lateral flow test before meeting friends and wear a face mask indoors to help reduce transmission.

Boardmasters festival has defended the precautions it took to safely hold the event, saying it put risk management measures in place “above and beyond national guidelines”.

A spokesperson said: “Since the Government allowed live events to return, we have worked closely with Cornwall Council’s public health team, putting in place risk management measures above and beyond national guidelines.

“These included use of the NHS Covid Pass as a condition of entry, which was introduced during the Government Events Research Programme earlier this year and is being recommended as best-practice at other large events.

“The system detected more than 450 people who would otherwise have been at risk of passing on the virus and as a result did not attend our Watergate Bay site or left the festival early. We are grateful to them and everyone else who took the extra steps this year.

“No event is able to eliminate risk entirely and the latest Test and Trace data includes reported infections among the 76,000 people who visited the festival or related activities at Fistral Beach, in Newquay and the wider area during the week of Boardmasters.

“We will continue to work with our public health partners to understand the extent to which attendance at the festival has contributed to the figures.

“We look forward to sharing our experience with our local authority partners and other large events so we can all continue to provide much needed economic benefit to our communities and entertainment to our loyal audiences.”

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