Around 1,500 volunteers aged between 18 and 50 equipped with face masks, hand disinfectant and tracking gadgets attended three indoor concerts in Germany on Saturday as part of a study to simulate how the novel coronavirus spreads in large gatherings.
Scientists in Germany held the concerts in a single day to investigate the risks posed by mass indoor events during the pandemic.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Markel has a doctorate in quantum chemistry and was working as a research scientist before coming in power.
As part of the so-called Restart19 study, researchers from the University Medical Center in Halle want to find out how cultural and sporting events can safely take place without posing a risk to the population.
Volunteers were handed protective facemasks of the type typically used in hospitals and bottles of flurorescent hand sanitizer at the concerts. Singer-songwriter Tim Bendzko agreed to perform at all three successive gigs.
“I am extremely satisfied with the discipline displayed by the participants,” Stefan Moritz, the head of the study, told a news conference after the concert. “I was surprised how disciplined everyone was in wearing masks.”
He said results of the study, which is being financed by the states of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, were expected in 4-6 weeks.
The participants were also given contact tracers to help track the distance between concertgoers and to identify in which parts of the arena, such as entrance halls and grandstands, people might crowd too closely together.
Researchers asked participants to regularly disinfect their hands using the fluorescent sanitiser so scientists can identify – with the help of ultra-violet light – which surfaces are touched frequently and pose a risk for spreading the virus.
Sporting events such as Liverpool’s Champions League soccer match against Atletico Madrid and the Cheltenham Festival, a horseracing event, in Britain in March have been blamed for playing a role in spreading COVID-19.
The study came as Germany recorded its highest number of Covid-19 infections since the end of April.
More than 2,000 cases were recorded in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 232,082, the Robert Koch Institute reported.