Euro 2020 tournament a COVID ‘superspreader event’

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London: The Euro 2020 soccer final between England and Italy in July was a superspreader event due to the level of COVID-19 infection found in or around London’s Wembley Stadium on the day, according to official data published on Saturday AEST.

Public Health England said 2295 people were likely to have been infectious when they attended the July 11 match, with 3404 people potentially acquiring infection then.

“Euros final was superspreader event,” declared The Times newspaper.

The crowd watches Italy save an English penalty in a shootout during the final of the UEFA Euro 2020 on July 11.Credit:Getty Images

The match, with a crowd of around 67,000 inside the stadium, was England’s first final in an international soccer tournament since the country hosted and won the 1966 World Cup.

Some 2092 likely acquired their infections at the semi-final won by England. Further infections were connected to other events linked to the mount-long championship, including other games and entertainment. In their paper, the researchers said in total 6784 people acquired COVID during the tournament.

Clubbers queue around the block at a few minutes to midnight waiting for Covid-19 restrictions to be dropped and for Pryzm nightclub to open its doors as restrictions were lifted in England on July 19.Credit:Getty Images

“Data from the Euro 2020 matches hosted at Wembley identified very high numbers of
individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and were traced through NHS Test and
Trace. This included both individuals who were potentially infectious (3071) and those
who acquired their infection during the time of the tournament (6784),” they wrote.

“Euro 2020 was a unique occasion and it is unlikely we would see a similar impact on COVID-19 cases from future events,” said Jenifer Smith, Public Health England’s deputy medical director, in a statement.

“However, the data does show how easily the virus can spread when there is close contact and this should be a warning to us all as we try and return to a cautious normality once again.”

Other trial events over a four-month period showed far fewer positive tests, and were either broadly in line with or lower than national averages.

The British Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone in July drew a 350,000-strong crowd, the largest in Britain in more than 18 months, over three days and had 585 cases recorded by NHS Test and Trace.

Of those cases, 343 were likely to have already been infectious around the time of the event and the rest likely to have acquired an infection then.

The Wimbledon tennis championships, with around 300,000 people attending over the two weeks, recorded 881 cases.

The researchers concluded the Euro 2020 tournament and England’s progress to the final “generated a significant risk to public health across the UK even when England played overseas. This
risk arose not just from individuals attending the event itself, but included activities undertaken during travel and associated social activities.”

The paper did not include data on whether those cases led to higher rates of hospitalisation or death.

“We’ve shown that we can reintroduce mass sports and cultural events safely but it is important that people remain cautious when mixing in very crowded settings,” said Culture Minister Oliver Dowden.

“So that we can keep the football season, theatres and gigs safe with full crowds this winter, I urge sport, music and culture fans to get the vaccine as this is the safest way we can get big events firing on all cylinders once more.”

Reuters

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