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Yes, South Africa’s Rage school-leaving gatherings identified as Covid-19 super-spreader events

South Africa’s health department has identified the Matric Rage festival, a series of days-long parties attended by thousands of grade 12 school-leavers across the country, as Covid-19 super-spreader events.

That’s according to several news reports and individual messages posted on Facebook and Instagram in early December 2020.

“All matrics returning from Rage are advised to quarantine for a 14-day period,” reads one. “There are already over 120 confirmed cases from KZN Matric Rage and many more awaiting test results.” KZN is the coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal.

But Facebook’s fact-checking system – the company also owns Instagram – has flagged the posts as possibly false. Have Rage gatherings been identified by the department as super-spreader events?

‘Urge Rage attendees to test for Covid-19’

On 6 December the health department issued a media alert headlined: “Urgent announcement: matric Rage gatherings identified as super-spreader events”.

The alert warns “learners and parents” that the department has “identified a number of Covid-19 confirmed cases” arising from “super-spreader Rage matric events” held in Ballito, Plettenberg Bay,  Johannesburg and Jeffery’s Bay in late November and early December (Note: According to organisers only the Ballito even took place, the others have reportedly been postponed.)

“We now urge all the Rage attendees to immediately go into a 10 day quarantine period as per the Department of Health Guidelines on Quarantine and Isolation. We also urge that all Rage attendants test for COVID-19. We also encourage parents to take their children who have attended Rage for testing as soon as possible.”

The department posted the alert in two tweets.

The warning  was also published on the government’s coronavirus portal.

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