Latitude Festival could lead to around 400 Covid cases despite jabs and tests

The children's area at Latitude was full of fun for all the family. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Latitude could lead to between 300 and 400 virus cases, say health chiefs - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Public health bosses in Suffolk have said that everything that was needed for Latitude Festival to go ahead safely was done, and that between 300 and 400 Covid-19 cases among festival-goers would be consistent with levels of infection spread in the community.

The festival held at Henham Park near Southwold last weekend welcomed 40,000 people through the gates as part of the Government’s test events programme for the opening up of large scale events.

That required people to either have two Covid-19 vaccines or have had a negative test before arrival.

However, reports have begun emerging of people testing positive since returning from the festival.

Stuart Keeble, director of Public Health Suffolk, told Friday’s local outbreak engagement board meeting of council, police and health bosses that around 20 positive cases locally had been attributed to the event, but with many people coming from elsewhere in the country it would not be known until the Government publishes its findings as to how widespread cases were.

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“I know that there is anecdotal discussion going on saying Latitude potentially is leading to cases and people are aware of it,” he said.

“The thing I would say is you have got 40,000 people there, so if you look at the background rates of Covid in the population, which is about 1.4%, we would expect to see about 300 or 400 cases in that population over time, so it is quite possible the cases we are potentially hearing about are ones we would have seen in the population anyway.

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“The event itself went well – a lot of preparation and planning was done. We had a process in place identifying people who tested positive at the event.”

He continued: “The data is being co-ordinated at a national level about what happens next.

“I think we might have picked up on about 20 cases locally that have been associated with Latitude, but we won’t see the full effect because a lot of people will have travelled from across the country. That is the role of the study to work that out.

“I think we have done everything we could do with that – it was well organised and we will just have to watch what happens with the research findings afterwards.”

Mr Keeble praised people who attended for continuing to test while they were on site, and said teams with the mobile vaccination bus through the weekend had productive conversations with young people about getting the jab.

Data presented to the meeting showed the team carried out 317 jabs across the weekend, 217 of which were first doses for 18-29 year olds.

Cath Byford, chief nurse at Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It was really excellent – we were never going to get thousands and thousands of vaccines, but both systems [Suffolk and Norfolk and Waveney] are really high performance in our vaccination programme, so sometimes less is more when we have already done so well achieving the numbers.”

The team is now sharing its advice with Berkshire CCG that will help inform preparations for Reading Festival at the end of August.

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