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Claims of Doncaster link to Covid-19 outbreak proves false alarm

The British Horseracing Authority has been advised that a coach party thought to have visited Doncaster’s pilot crowd event last week and subsequently linked to a cluster of Covid-19 cases in Wales did not actually travel to the track.

Wales’s Health Minister Vaughan Gething pointed to a rugby club outing to Town Moor, which stopped at a “series of pubs on the way”, as one of two possible sources of the outbreak which has resulted in a local lockdown in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

However, Doncaster Racecourse issued a statement on Wednesday evening underlining it had no ticket bookings for any groups from the south Wales region and had not been contacted by the Welsh Government or NHS.

The BHA has subsequently been informed by Public Health Wales that the group had not attended the first day of the St Leger meeting as initially reported.

A statement said: “The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has been told by Public Health Wales (PHW) that a coach party from south Wales – now part of a Covid lockdown area in the Rhondda Cynon Taf – did not visit Doncaster Racecourse as reported.

“The BHA had been seeking further information about the case on behalf of Doncaster Racecourse, which had not been contacted by public health officials as part of a Test & Trace process and had no knowledge of the supposed visit.

“PHW confirmed that no contact had been made with Doncaster Racecourse because the group had not attended the pilot event last Wednesday, September 9, the first day of the St Leger Festival.

“PHW expect a formal clarification will be provided by the Welsh government as soon as possible. The BHA has passed on the information to ARC, which runs Doncaster Racecourse.”

The Welsh Government later said the group had not entered the racecourse as originally planned.

Around 2,500 spectators were on course for the first day of the St Leger meeting last Wednesday, although the planned four-day trial was curtailed after that opening card on the instruction of the local authority.

Doncaster refutes claims crowd pilot could be coronavirus case source

Doncaster racecourse has rejected claims from the Welsh Government that a “significant” cluster of Covid-19 cases in Rhondda Cynon Taf could be connected to last week’s crowd pilot at the track.

Around 2,500 spectators were on course for the first day of the St Leger meeting last Wednesday, although the planned four-day trial was curtailed after that opening card on the instruction of the local authority.

Wales’s Health Minister Vaughan Gething pointed to a rugby club outing to Town Moor, which stopped at a “series of pubs on the way”, as a possible source of the outbreak which has resulted in a local lockdown.

He said: “Our contact tracing teams have been able to trace about half of these cases back to a series of clusters within the borough.

“The rest are evidence of community transmission. There are a number of clusters within Rhondda Cynon Taf, two of which are significant.

“One is associated with a rugby club and a pub in the lower Rhondda. And the other with a club outing to the Doncaster races, which stopped off at a series of pubs on the way.”

However, Doncaster reported it had no ticket bookings for any groups from the South Wales region and had not been contacted by the Welsh Government or NHS.

A statement from the track said: “As a condition of running the pilot event last week, we were required to implement a full track and trace database that took the details of all attendees that would be on site, linked to an e-ticket and photo ID system on entry that would verify attendance.

“Doncaster Racecourse has received no contact from any organisation, including the NHS or the Welsh Government, to verify the attendance of any individuals at last week’s event for the purposes of track and trace. In addition, we do not have any ticket bookings for any groups from the South Wales area for Wednesday’s event.

“We will be contacting the Welsh Health Minister as a matter of urgency to clarify the situation.”