"Anyway, it was worth it" Was Rock am Ring a source of infection for Corona?
Adenau · 90,000 visitors celebrated at Rock am Ring on the Whitsun weekend, the first big festival after a two-year forced break. Many apparently got infected with Corona. What does this mean for the summer festivals? Is it a mistake to let the masses come together again?
Sascha H. is just about to take down his tent on the festival grounds on Whit Monday when he receives the first warning message: Encounter with increased risk at Rock am Ring. In the end, the 46-year-old's Corona app records three risk contacts with Corona-infected people - and the man from Düsseldorf falls ill himself. First he felt a scratchy throat, then fever and chills.
Numerous Corona infections after Rock am Ring?
Sascha H. is apparently not the only one who returned from Germany's biggest rock festival in the Eifel with the corona virus. In a non-representative survey in a Rock am Ring group on Facebook, 24 percent of the respondents said they had tested positive after the festival. Ten percent declared having symptoms but a negative test. Nine percent reported acquaintances who had tested positive. More than 1300 people took part in the survey, more than 300 said they had been infected. The summary of some ring-rockers: "Doesn't matter, it was worth it."
90,000 visitors celebrated at Rock am Ring on the Whitsun weekend. It was the first big festival after a two-year compulsory break due to Corona, and the euphoria among visitors and bands was huge. Many more festivals will follow, such as the Hurricane Festival in northern Germany and Southside in the south next weekend. At the beginning of July, 25,000 visitors are expected at Summerjam in Cologne. Meanwhile, the seven-day incidence of people infected with Corona in North Rhine-Westphalia is rising significantly, to 403.6 on Monday. The highest incidences are in the age groups 20 to 39 and 40 to 59, according to figures from the NRW State Centre for Health. In other words, in the age groups with the highest mobility and the most contacts. What does this mean for the festivals? Is it a mistake to let the masses come together again?
Corona at Rock am Ring: risk of infection highest in cars, tents and toilets
"There are enough classic contagion situations at a festival," says Thomas Voshaar, chief physician of the lung centre at Bethanien Hospital in Moers. But he also says: "The probability of infection outdoors is less than 0.1 per cent." It is true that there is also a slightly increased risk of infection outside when people stand close together, breathe on each other and there is little wind movement. "But the greatest risks of infection are indoors - on buses and trains, in cars, in tents and toilet rooms," says Voshaar. Aerosol researcher Gerhard Scheuch adds, "There are no cluster infections outside, you might infect your neighbour, but not a whole group." If it were the case that outdoor mass events would trigger a superspreader event, then outbreaks would have already occurred much more often, especially at Bundesliga matches, says Scheuch. "The contagions also happen at football on arrival and departure." To be sure, the figures show that the pandemic is not over yet. "But we have to live with it," says Scheuch. "And we have to be allowed to celebrate festivals and go to stadiums.“
The Rock am Ring organiser has no information about an increased incidence of infection, a spokesperson told our editorial team. There were no Corona measures on the festival grounds, distance rules could not have been observed anyway. In an interview before the start, organiser Matt Schwarz had also declared: "We have to learn to live with the pandemic." Of course, the visitors are free to decide whether they want a mask or not.
Corona at Rock am Ring: courses with Omikron variant mostly mild
"Three of us went to Rock am Ring and we are all corona positive," says Christoph K., 49, from Dortmund, Germany. "The shuttle buses between the festival grounds and the campsites were always packed and we didn't see anyone wearing a mask - but we didn't wear one ourselves either.“
Gerhard Scheuch says: "I recommend people: Take a CO2 meter with you. There are cheap devices that you can just put in your pocket." If the CO2 level rises sharply on the bus or in a closed room, you can open the windows or go out into the fresh air, he says. Corona expert Voshaar relies on personal responsibility: "People have long understood where there is danger and where there is not," says the 64-year-old. "Everyone should decide for themselves whether they want to avoid the infection altogether or take a risk." The course of the disease with the Omikron variant is usually mild, he says. "An infection that has been passed through the body now leaves a much better and more stable immunity than a booster vaccination," says Voshaar. The thought of a festival with thousands of people does not alarm him at all. On the contrary. "The more infections we have now, the better." As a result, he says, the immunity of the population at large is improving. "And so we can go into the autumn much safer."
Original text: Claudia Hauser and Tobias Dupke
Translation: Mareike Graepel