The VERKNIPT festival in the Dutch city of Utrecht has turned into a COVID-19 superspreader event. More than 1000 punters have tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the outdoor festival over the first weekend of July.
Coronavirus cases are rising sharply in the Netherlands after the Western European nation scrapped the majority of its restrictions at the end of last month. The ABC reports the country saw infections rise more than 500 per cent over the course of one week. The case numbers have continued to rise, going from their lowest levels in nine months to nearly equalling the country’s devastating second wave from December 2020.
Outdoor events are generally regarded as low-risk, but the VERKNIPT festival outbreak indicates that when the virus is so prevalent in the community, outdoor gatherings can also be superspreader events.
VERKNIPT was advertised as a COVID-safe return to mass gatherings, and attendees were required to show proof of full vaccination or a negative test result to be allowed in. Despite this, Utrecht’s regional heath board told CNBC that 1050 festival attendees have now tested positive.
Aanwezig bij festival #Verknipt om een kijkje te nemen voor èn achter de schermen. Bijzonder en ook best wel spannend om na zo’n lange tijd weer zoveel mensen dicht bijeen te zien. Mensen die alleen met een QR code toegang krijgen omdat hier zelfs de 1,5m niet meer geldt.. pic.twitter.com/uvQKkZtTB0
— Sharon Dijksma (@sharon_dijksma) July 3, 2021
“We cannot say that all these people were infected at the festival itself,” said Utrecht health board spokesperson, Lennart van Trigt. “It could also be possible that they’ve been infected while travelling to the festival or in the evening before going to the festival or having an after-party.”
Negative tests were accepted from as far back as 40 hours prior to the event, which health officials now recognise was too lengthy an interval. “We should have had a 24 hour [period],” said van Trigt. People were also granted COVID-safe entry passes for the festival as soon as they were vaccinated, neglecting the amount of time it takes to build immunity following a vaccine.