Sport Large events have 'a small impact' on Covid spread, SAGE report claims
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Big events of 50 people or more could be more Covid safe than modest parties of 10 to 20 people, according toscientists.
People don't actually mix with a lot of people at large gatherings and only rarely go to them so experts say they may not pose much risk of transmission.
But smaller events happen more often and people have more close contact with the other people there, they said.
The evidence could bode well for concerts, sporting events and theatres reopening in the summer. They are expected to be able to start up again from May 17, in just 10 days' time.
The research was presented to government advisers by SAGE members from the universities of Bristol, Warwick, Manchester, Lancaster and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
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It said: 'Large groups of individuals have a relatively small impact on an epidemic, under normal circumstances with pre-Covid contact patterns.'
The paper explains that, in normal life, large events of more than 50 people only account for 0.5 per cent of people's interactions with others.
Even though there are more people around them, opportunities to catch the virus - by being close to someone or touching them - are fewer because people tend not to mix with most people at huge events, instead sticking in small numbers.
It said: 'If a person attended a concert with 1,000 people, but only spoke to five people, the number of recorded group contacts would be five.'
It suggests that around 5.4 per cent of Covid cases could be linked to gatherings of 50+ people in non-lockdown times.
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This compared to 18.9 per cent of infections being caught in situations with between 20 and 49 people, and 25.2 per cent transmitting in groups of 10-19.
It did not study smaller groups - the current legal limit is six people for socialising, 15 for weddings or child-parent groups and 30 for funerals.
The team's modelling found that people's close contact time increased in line with the number of people they saw up to about 20 people, when it peaked at 29.5 hours of combined contact time in a day.
And although groups of 30, 40 or 50 people could have similar levels of contact time, they were less common.
Smaller groups, meanwhile, brought a lot of contact time and were also very common, with gatherings of seven to 20 people making up 60 per cent of all groups.
The paper said: 'Without social distancing and assuming normal behaviour, large groups of individuals have a relatively small epidemiological impact.
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Department of Health data showed infections had dipped by one per cent compared to last week, and deaths had dropped by two or 6.9 per cent.Department of Health data showed infections had dipped one per cent compared to the same time last week, and fatalities were down by two or 6.9 per cent.
'Small and medium sized groups between 10 and 50 people have a larger impact on any epidemic.'
The study did not distinguish between indoor and outdoor gatherings and it added: 'The pattern of decreasing [cases] with increasing group size is seen for both groups of individuals who are known to each other and groups of individuals who are unknown to each other.'
The research was published by the government as part of the weekly release of SAGE documents.
It comes a week after the UK started trials of large events with a nightclub reopening and a gig in Liverpool, and allowing snooker spectators in Sheffield.
Thousands of music fans flooded Liverpool's Sefton Park on Sunday night to attend the UK's first post-lockdown gig headlined by indie band Blossoms.
In total 5,000 fans were allowed into the gig and they were not required to wear masks or socially distance during the event.
The line-up included Blossoms, The Lathums and Liverpool singer-songwriter Zuzu and the event formed part of the national Events Research Programme (ERP).
Ticketholders had to take a Lateral Flow Test at a community testing site 24 hours before the event and had to produce a negative result to gain entry.
Attendees then havd to take another test five days after the event as part of the ERP's research.
Meanwhile in Sheffield, fans continued to be allowed to watch the World Championship Snooker final. They had to wear masks but didn't need to socially distance.
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According to data from the latest round of the React-1 study, prevalence of COVID-19 infections dropped by 50% between March and early May.A special message from Microsoft News: India is currently being devastated by a deadly second wave of Covid. You can support Oxfam's Covid relief efforts in India, including reaching out to the most affected and vulnerable communities, distributing and installing medical equipment and accessories, and supporting the most marginalised households. You can donate here.