Over one million people have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began at the start of the year. This deadly disease is highly contagious, but some gatherings or incidents can help create an explosion in new cases. These are known as ‘super-spreader events’ – and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has been mapping them all.
Mapping the COVID-19 outbreak
Hundreds of these ‘red dots’ have popped up on the map since the end of February – one was even added this week. The visual data is alarming, to say the least, and it reveals that South Africa has hosted two super-spreader events itself.
It’s also worth noting…
- The US has had dozens of these deadly events, more than any other nation on Earth. Not really a surprise, hey?
- The single biggest ‘super-spreading case’ registered was in Milan, Italy: Around 7 000 people tested positive after attending the same football match in March.
- On Tuesday 6 October, Germany declared the map’s most recent super-spreading incident. About 1 400 people at a meat processing plant in Gutersloh have been infected with COVID-19.
- Super-spreader events occurred in both the Arctic Circle (Tromso in Norway) and one of the most southerly towns in the world (Ushuaia, Argentina). Both were caused by disembarking crews from sea vessels.
Map: Where have super-spreading events taken place?
COVID-19: Super-spreading in South Africa
Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast, Bloemfontein
Our first serious brush with COVID-19 occurred in March. It was the month our ‘patient zero’ was discovered, and cases slowly began to increase in the first couple of weeks. But the spread of the virus was kicked into fifth gear by this now-infamous prayer breakfast, held in Bloemfontein. Two senior ACDP members were also in attendance.
A total of 67 cases were traced to this religious event, shaping the government’s lockdown laws on worship.
Funeral gathering, Nelson Mandela Bay
On Saturday 4 April, dozens of mourners risked spreading the grief as well as the deadly onset of COVID-19, when 54 people who tested positive for the disease were found to have attended the same funeral. This was reported just days after SA’s first coronavirus death was registered, and it could have been much worse had it happened during flu season.
There was one other ‘super-spreader event’ in Africa
The city of Tema in Ghana is the only other location on the continent with a super-spreader event, and it dwarves anything that was seen in SA. An outbreak at a fish-processing plant infected 533 people on Monday 20 April. The virus was able to thrive in a poorly-ventilated indoor setting.