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Boardmasters festival potentially linked to almost 5,000 coronavirus cases

The Cornish festival took place earlier this month, and featured performances from Gorillaz and more

Almost 5,000 cases of coronavirus have reportedly been linked to this month's edition of Boardmasters Festival in Newquay.

Health officials say that 4,700 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 have reported that they had attended the festival, or had connections to people who had attended it. The event, which took place from 11th-15th August, has a capacity of around 50,000 people in total. 

Around three-quarters of those who tested positive for COVID-19 are aged 16-21 and about 800 live in the county, according to figures shared by the local health authority.

The Cornish festival required all ticket-holders aged 11 and over to report their coronavirus status through the NHS COVID app before being permitted entry, and festival-goers who camped at the festival were asked to take a second NHS lateral flow test during the event and log their results in the app. Face masks were not mandatory but were encouraged.

The festival this year hosted performances from the likes of Gorillaz, Kano and Jamie xx, among many others. It's reported that local authorities had considered not allowing the festival to go ahead, but it was allowed to take place following close consultation with the event organisers.

Coronavirus infections across the South West of England have increased, and are rising particularly in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 717 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 of the population were reported in the seven days up to and including August 19 – four days after the festival came to an end.

"COVID cases have been rising steadily across Cornwall over recent weeks – particularly in our tourist hotspots," said Rachel Wigglesworth, the director of public health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. "Big events and mass gatherings like Boardmasters are now permitted and our public health team worked closely with the organisers over many weeks to ensure the event was as COVID-safe as possible.

"Our advice to residents, visitors and anyone who attended Boardmasters also remains the same – if you have COVID symptoms then isolate immediately and book a PCR test. If you have no symptoms, please continue to test twice a week with rapid lateral flow tests, which are available for free from pharmacies or can be delivered to your home."

A spokesperson for Boardmasters said the festival had put in "risk management measures above and beyond national guidelines", including the use of the NHS COVID pass as a condition of entry.

"The system detected over 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," the spokesperson said. "No event is able to eliminate risk entirely."

Boardmasters is the latest festival to be linked to a spate of new COVID-19 cases, following an event in Utrecht last month being linked to 1,000 new cases of the virus.