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A Taylor Swift fan party in Australia became a coronavirus super-spreader event with nearly 100 positive

At least 97 people who attended a Taylor Swift-themed party in Sydney last week have tested positive for the coronavirus, authorities said, adding that its likely some of the revelers were infected with the omicron variant.

The news comes as New South Wales relaxes many public health restrictions and Australia doubles down on its plan to "live with the virus" - even as omicron spreads around the world, prompting new restrictions and even lockdowns in some countries.

The event, dubbed "On Repeat: Taylor Swift Red Party," took place Dec. 10 at the Metro Theatre in Sydney, a live music venue with a capacity of 1,100 people, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. It was billed as a celebration of the rerelease of Taylor Swift's 2012 album "Red."

On Thursday, public health authorities in New South Wales said in a statement that of the at least 97 confirmed cases of covid-19 that were tied to the party, "it is likely some of these cases have the Omicron variant of concern." It advised everyone who attended, as well as their close contacts, to get tested for the coronavirus and self-isolate for a week, under the state's public health guidelines for exposure.

NSW Health said it was reaching out to 600 people who attended the event and checked in via a contact tracing app to tell them they should test and isolate. The health department added that people who attended but did not check in with the app should do the same.

Cases in New South Wales are on the rise, with the state reporting 11,590 in the week ending Saturday evening, compared with 2,841 the week before. More than 93 percent of people in New South Wales who are 16 or older are fully vaccinated.

On a Facebook page for the event, organizers warned attendees on Tuesday that a person who tested positive for the coronavirus attended, saying they found out through "comments on our social media."

"We know this (is) a scary time for all and we want to continue to do all that we can to create safe events for everyone as the world moves forward and learns to live with Covid in the community," wrote the organizers, who said they were based in Adelaide and "were not on site on the night."

Some users who attended the party reported their positive coronavirus diagnoses in the comments. "Such a fun night but soooo many positive cases from this night hope everyone is okay," said one user.

Before the outbreak, event organizers said on Facebook that another Taylor Swift-themed event was planned for Jan. 7.

The Taylor Swift party was not the only event sparking mass isolations in New South Wales last week amid loosening restrictions. In nearby Newcastle, NSW Health said Friday that anyone present in three different hotels on Saturday "should monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately and isolate, if they (are) present."

Even as state authorities double down on gradual reopening measures - including by scrapping a rule this week that only the fully vaccinated can attend restaurants, cafes and other venues - NSW Health announced Thursday that a music festival due to take place Saturday was ordered to shut down due to the risks from "the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in the Newcastle area, where the majority of a record number of cases are the Omicron variant of concern."

Published : December 19, 2021

By : The Washington Post