BHA respond to claims Doncaster races is to blame for coronavirus outbreak

The British Horseracing Authority has confirmed Doncaster races is not to blame for a coronavirus outbreak in South Wales.

Wales health minister Vaughan Gething had suggested that a rugby club trip was one source of the increased cases in Rhonnda Cynon Taf.

Nearly a quarter of a million people in the area are set to go into local lockdown from 6pm, unable to enter or leave the area without a reasonable excuse.

The BHA confirmed last night that fears about the racing trip were unfounded.

"The British Horseracing Authority has been told by Public Health Wales tonight that a coach party from South Wales – now part of a COVID lockdown area in the Rhondda Cynon Taff – did not visit Doncaster Racecourse as reported," a spokesperson said.

"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 9th September, 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 area affected has had 82.1 infections per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

It is the second in Wales to have restrictions imposed, following Caerphilly county borough.

A statement from Doncaster Racecourse 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."

The Welsh government's health and social care department tweeted on Wednesday night: "Regarding concerns that a coach party from South Wales attended Doncaster Racecourse over the weekend, we understand that though the original intention of the party was to travel to the Doncaster Racecourse, the party did not enter the racecourse as originally planned."

The sporting venue only permitted spectators to attend on the Wednesday, after the rest of its crowd trial was called off by Director of Public Health Dr Rupert Suckling.

The next pilot events are to be staged at Warwick and Newmarket next week.

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