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German live industry blasts WHO’s monkeypox claim

Germany’s Event Management Forum has accused the World Health Organisation (WHO) of scaremongering over claims that summer festivals could be super-spreader events for Monkeypox.

The WHO warned earlier this week that Europe is at the epicentre of the “largest and most geographically widespread monkeypox outbreak ever reported” outside western and central Africa.

The virus spreads can be transmitted through close contact with an infected person, with Dr Hans Henri P Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, saying reports to date indicated the current outbreak is being spread “largely through sexual activity”.

“Over the coming months, many of the dozens of festivals and large parties planned provide further contexts where amplification may occur,” he added. “But they also provide powerful opportunities to engage with young, sexually active and globally mobile persons to raise awareness and strengthen individual and community protection.”

“Many people are still afraid of becoming infected with coronavirus at events. This fear is fuelled by the WHO statement without any solid basis”

But the statement has been met with an angry response from the EMF – the umbrella group bringing together the BDKV (Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry), venue association LiveKomm, independent suppliers’ organisation ISDV, pro-AV group VPLT and the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC).

The organisation has blasted the WHO’s claim as “irresponsible fear-mongering”, amid concerns it could impact the organisation’s post-pandemic recovery.

“Under difficult conditions, the event industry is trying to be able to hold events again reasonably economically after a two-year forced break,” says the EMF. “They suffer considerably from the fact that many people are still afraid of becoming infected with the coronavirus at events. This fear is fuelled by the WHO statement without any solid basis.

“According to the RKI [public health institute] and Federal Minister of Health Lauterbach and many other experts, the disease is difficult to transmit from person to person,” it says. “The virus is therefore in no way comparable to the risk of infection from the coronavirus.”

“People don’t only come together closely at major events and festivals”

The EMF notes that just 33 cases of monkeypox have been detected so far in Germany.

“People don’t only come together closely at major events and festivals, but also in the outdoor pool, in the fitness centre, on public transport, on the plane and in many other places,” adds EVVC MD Timo Feuerbach. “To warn of an increased risk of infection at festivals from ‘sexually active people’ is completely inappropriate.”

Live music promoters in Germany have previously reported sluggish ticket sales despite the lifting of Covid restrictions. BDKV president Jens Michow said last month that advance sales for shows planned for autumn 2022 and spring 2023 were weak, exacerbated by staffing shortages and an oversupply of events.


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