Three people have died and more than 80 more have fallen ill with Covid-19 after a week-long church event in the US state of North Carolina. The outbreak occurred after United House of Prayer for All People in Charlotte welcomed more than 1,000 people to a series of events held between 4th and 11th October.
The Mecklenburg County Health Department has said that those affected comprise of both attendees and their close contacts.
In its latest update on the situation, the department said that there are 82 Covid-19 cases currently linked to the church events, including "at least 5 hospitalizations, 3 deaths and 1 cluster of 8 residents at a senior living community, Madison Saints Paradise South Senior Living".
The department added that they had attempted to contact 131 close contacts of the 82 confirmed cases and that they had tested 127 individuals on Thursday.
"Public Health advises anyone who attended events at the church Oct. 4 - Oct. 11 or who has been in contact with someone who attended events at the church on the dates mentioned above get tested for COVID-19," the statement added. "If you have COVID-19 like symptoms, please avoid close contact with anyone."
The department added that in partnership with a private healthcare provider, it will that it will be offering "no cost, drive-thru COVID-19 testing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow Friday, Oct. 23 at the Northwest Health Department location, 2845 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte, NC 28216".
In comments made to WBTV, one woman claimed that her mother-in-law had died after attending the church events, though she was not tested for Covid-19 before passing away. Catherine Williams said the church should have cancelled the event in light of the ongoing pandemic. "[Attendees] had masks on but it was just the fact that people from different states came here,” she said of the events. “My thing is that with Covid they should have just cancelled it.”
In total, North Carolina has over 250,000 recorded cases, with more than 4,000 deaths.