Gigs during a pandemic may not be as dangerous as thought – study

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Good news for organizers of concerts and music festivals and anyone who misses them: perhaps, with proper safety precautions, the risk of infection at such events is minimal. Bad news: It is not yet known whether the authorities will heed the study’s findings.

A group of scientists from the University of Halle-Wittenberg. Martin Luther (MLU) in Germany hosted study at an experimental pop concert at the Leipzig Arena to determine the likelihood of contracting coronavirus. For this, several behaviors were modeled for the concert participants. The volunteers were divided into three groups: some had to strictly observe social distance, others with indulgences, and still others not at all. All participants wore respirators and were provided with fluorescent disinfectants and special means to control the spread of aerosol droplets and air circulation.

For 10 hours, the participants moved around the concert hall, visited the buffet and toilets. According to the results of the study, scientists estimated the probability of the spread of coronavirus at such an event from “low” to “very low” if the organizers provide all the necessary security measures. Namely: high-quality ventilation, limited capacity, the ability to enter the hall through several exits. It is noteworthy that the greatest number of personal contacts did not take place during the concert, but when people left the hall, had a snack in the buffet and visited the restrooms.

The study has not yet been reviewed and has been published as a preprint. Representatives of the concert industry reacted to it with great optimism, while the scientific community reacted to it skeptically and suggested waiting for the results of larger studies. Gabriel Scally, President, Epidemiology and Public Health, Royal Society of Medicine considersthat it will be objectively difficult for the organizers of large concerts and festivals to implement all these security measures and make sure that people follow them.

After the WHO declared the COVID-19 pandemic, concerts and music festivals were among the first to be banned. It is known that SARS-CoV-2 is released from the body of an infected person into the environment when breathing, talking, coughing, sneezing, singing. In different countries, including Russia, small concerts are allowed, subject to safety measures (thermometry, control over the filling of the hall), but large concert venues are still idle.



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