Rage Festival: All attendees considered contacts, urged to get tested after Covid-19 cases - Mkhize

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Four staff members at the Ballito Rage Festival have tested positive for Covid-19, organisers have said.
Four staff members at the Ballito Rage Festival have tested positive for Covid-19, organisers have said.
Darren Stewart
  • Four staff members at the Ballito Rage Festival tested positive for Covid-19, organisers said.
  • However, a Durban doctor reported 20 positive cases in less than 48-hours, with most of the patients asymptomatic.
  • Festival organisers declined to label the event a super-spreader, saying there were no statistics to prove this.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has urged attendees at the Ballito Rage Festival to get tested for Covid-19 and self-isolate, after attendees and staff tested positive.

"We confirm that we have now identified a number of Covid-19 confirmed cases arising from these super-spreader events. This therefore means that if you attended any of these Rage events, you are now regarded as a contact," Mkhize said in a statement.

"We now urge all the Rage attendees to immediately go into a 10 day quarantine period as per the Department of Health Guidelines on Quarantine and Isolation. We also urge that all Rage attendants test for Covid-19."

Mkhize also encourage parents to take their children who had attended the festival for testing as soon as possible.

Rage festival organisers confirmed to News24 that four staff at the event had tested positive, while a Hillcrest-based doctor confirmed another 20 cases.

Dr Kams Govender said 20 patients tested positive for Covid-19 in under 48 hours. All the patients were teenagers or young adults who had either attended, or had friends who had attended, Rage Festival events in Ballito.

Govender added that the results on another 40 to 50 tests were still outstanding.

"And I'm just one small practice in Durban. Many of my colleagues at other practices have reported the same thing," he said.

In a social media post shared on his practice's page on Saturday, Governder said: "The past 48 hours has been overwhelming as a practitioner in the Upper Highway area with an influx of teens requiring Covid-19 PCR tests. This has been largely due to them attending the annual matric Rage event over the last week and having multiple friends whom have tested positive for Covid-19."

All the patients who tested positive were in the age bracket of 15 to 21. Govender said that almost all of the Covid-19 positive patients were asymptomatic.

"Usually, youngsters have a robust immune system and recover very quickly with minor or no symptoms. However, this age group also tends to socialise in large groups and this will most certainly increase the spread of the virus during the festive period," Govender said.

The medical scheme group Discovery also sent out an alert, warning its members that it is "detecting high rates of positive Covid-19 tests in students returning from the post-matric celebrations in KwaZulu-Natal".

A spokesperson urged attendees to test themselves, and to isolate if they have been in close contact with those who tested positive.

Large events had the potential to quickly spread the virus on multiple people. A super-spreader event was classified as when a single person passed on the virus to more than eight people.

READ | SA will have vaccine by mid-2021, but must be one dose only, says top Covid advisor prof Karim

Greg Walsh, the CEO of G&G Productions, who hosts the festival countrywide, denied that the event was a super-spreader.

"It would be irresponsible to label the event a super-spreader when there are no statistics or precedent to call it that... We are working directly with the Department of Health and NICD and they should be the ones to make any findings," he said.

Walsh, previously told News24 that organisers had taken the decision to hold the events because matrics would make their way to the coast either way and that the event organisers had "20 years' experience and a reputation for hosting an extremely safe and controlled event".

In a statement, Walsh confirmed that four staff members at the events had tested positive.

"Despite all efforts before and during the festival and at all Rage-controlled venues, we regret that we have received reports that some attendees have subsequently tested positive for Covid-19. In addition, we are aware of four staff working on behalf of suppliers who have let us know directly they have tested positive," said Walsh.

He added the organisers had added "significantly more health and safety measures" this year to comply with Covid-19 regulations.

"Our full Covid-19 plan was submitted (an 86-page document) to the local health department and the Durban Events Department prior to the event. We had to comply with more than 20 additional regulations in order to obtain approval," he said.

Among these were pre-screening, daily temperature checks, strict mask-wearing protocols, hand sanitising facilities, cashless payments, limited venue capacity, and PPE for staff.

Walsh confirmed that the organisers had sent several alerts to all attendees and had supplied all contact tracing information to the Health Department, advising them to self-isolate and get tested, in line with the NICD guidelines.

"We urgently advise that any person who attended any Rage Festival event in KZN or any other event, bar, house gathering or other place during the same period attended by matrics, be considered high-risk and follow the NICD guidelines immediately (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic)," he said.

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