Taylor Swift album party becomes superspreader event after nearly 100 test positive for Covid
A Taylor Swift album party in Sydney, Australia, appears to have been a superspreader event, with authorities issuing an urgent warning after the party was connected to nearly 100 Covid cases.
In a public health alert issued on Thursday, the New South Wales Ministry of Health said it had been notified of a "venue of concern" in Sydney connected to at least 97 confirmed cases of Covid-19.
The health ministry said that anyone who attended the "On Repeat: Taylor Swift Red Party" at the Metro Theatre from 9 p.m. local time on Friday Dec. 10 is considered a "close contact" of a positive Covid case and "must immediately get tested and isolate for 7 days."
The health ministry said it was likely that at least some of the cases identified were the omicron variant.
NSW Health said it was also asking all household contacts of those at the event to get tested and self-isolate until a negative result is received by everyone in the household.
It said it was "urgently contacting" at least 600 people who checked into the event via a QR code.
Anyone who did not use the QR code, it said, should "urgently get tested and isolate."
The health ministry also asked that the broader community work to "ensure other potential attendees are aware of this advice."
In the wake of the incident, NSW Health said it wanted to remind "everyone of the importance of maintaining Covid-safe practices as transmission is occurring at social events during the festive period."
"Everyone should remain vigilant when celebrating with family, friends and colleagues and should not attend any social functions if they have any symptoms," it said.
Cases in New South Wales have surged in recent days, from a 7-day average of 214 cases identified a day at the start of the month to a 7-day average of 1,091 as of Thursday, according to data maintained by the Johns Hopkins University.
NSW Health said penalties for non-compliance with isolation, testing and quarantine rules have been increased from $1,000 for individuals to $5,000, with penalties for corporations rising from $5,000 to $10,000.
The superspreader event also comes as countries around the world grapple with a surge in Covid cases amid the spread of the omicron variant.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden warned of a "winter of severe illness and death" for those who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 amid a surge in delta infections and as omicron spreads.
The warning came after a briefing with advisers, with the president warning omicron is "now spreading and it's going to increase."
Earlier this week, the U.S. passed the grim milestone of 800,000 coronavirus deaths.