WHO warns Euro 2020 organisers against turning finals into a covid ‘super spreader’

July 2 – The World Health Organization (WHO) has voiced concerns over Euro 2020, warning that the continental finals could act as a “super-spreader”.

The WHO warned against a new wave of Covid-19 in Europe with infections rising by 10% in a single week, but the health body also singled out the European Championship as an event that could spread the virus.

WHO senior emergency officer Catherine Smallwood called on host cities to do more to monitor the movement of fans. “What we need to look at is around the stadia,” said Smallwood, highlighting travel before and after matches. “What’s happening after the games? Are they going into crowded bars and pubs?”

Hundreds of Finnish fans tested positive after their team’s match in Saint Petersburg. Finnish health authorities asked the public to not travel to Russia after 400 infections were linked to fans returning from St Petersburg on June 21. Russia’s Euro 2020 host city has reported 1,300 new cases and 109 deaths on average in the past seven days and today (Friday) stages its last match of the tournament with the quarter-final Switzerland vs Spain.

Scottish fans also spread the virus after converging in London for their group-stage game with local rivals England. Public Health Scotland said two thirds of the 1,991 cases were people who travelled to the English capital for the match, but only 397 were fans who attended the match at Wembley.  The Scots traditionally ‘invade’ central London on England match days in the English capital.

With the Delta variant spreading across Europe, UEFA has faced a wave of criticism from European politicians for staging matches in front of big crowds and maintaining the semi-finals and final in London with coronavirus numbers on the rise in the English capital.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer branded UEFA “irresponsible”.  He said it was clear that hugging supporters would help spread the virus and criticised the decision of the UK government to allow 60,000 supporters at Wembley for the semi-finals and final.

Earlier this week, the EU’s head office in Brussels warned UEFA to be careful when staging these matches.

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