An expert in microbiology said he would avoid socialising with people returning from Reading Festival due to the risk of catching Covid-19.

Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor at the University of Reading, expects coronavirus cases to rise in Reading over the next fortnight due to the music event.

Organisers required ticket holders aged 11 and over to provide a negative test before being allowed entry, but Dr Clarke said there is no safe way to attend a festival during the pandemic.

“You can wear all the masks you like, you can sanitize your hands as much as you like – when you’re pressed up against other people then that’s when the real risks start to show,” said Dr Clarke, who teaches immunology, microbiology and human diseases.

He added: “It does undeniably provide an opportunity for more virus to be imported into Reading. Not only that, people will take it away with them afterwards back to their homes.”

Read more: Weekly Covid deaths four times higher than this time last year

Before the festival Melvin Benn, managing director of the Festival Republic Group, which runs Reading Festival, told BBC Radio 4 the event was arguably a “safer place to be” due to its testing requirement and the government’s vaccination programme.

But Dr Clarke said testing is not 100 per cent accurate and vaccination is ‘nowhere near’ 100 per cent effective against asymptomatic transmission.

Earlier this month, Cornwall Council linked 4,700 new infections to Boardmasters Festival, reported the BBC.

More than 1,000 Latitude Festival attendees later tested positive for Covid, according to government figures.

Reading Chronicle: Reading Festival-goers arrive on Wednesday, August 25Reading Festival-goers arrive on Wednesday, August 25

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“Any place where people mix is going to be an opportunity for the virus to spread and at a festival that’s the whole point – to bring people together,” said Dr Clarke.

Asked if he would socialise with festival-goers this week, he said: “Personally, probably not. If you were wanting to do something else that relied on you being negative like, for instance, go on holiday, then it’s probably a good idea to give people a wide berth.”

Mr Benn had told BBC Radio 4: “We are doing everything that we can and we are putting people – young people particularly – in an environment where they are all being tested.”

Reading Chronicle: 16-year-old festival-goer Jam Budden getting a vaccine jab at a walk-in Covid-19 vaccination clinic at the Reading Festival16-year-old festival-goer Jam Budden getting a vaccine jab at a walk-in Covid-19 vaccination clinic at the Reading Festival

He added: “Arguably it is better to be in a place where everyone is tested than not tested. Yes, that is what I believe.”

“Whereas again, in the main, young people are often in environments where they are not being tested and they don’t know whether the people around them have the virus or not," he said.

There were 369 new Covid-19 infections per 100,000 people in Reading in the week ending August 25, according to the latest data available from Public Health England.

This is up 31 per cent from 253 cases per 100,000 people at the start of the month, but slightly less than the August peak of 386.