A World Health Organisation scientist has condemned what she referred to as the ‘devastating‘ Euro 2020 final as a huge Covid risk.
Coronavirus infections in England have been surging driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant and the lifting of restrictions.
Almost all remaining restrictions are set to be lifted on July 19th including mask-wearing and social distancing measures.
The Guardian reports that in the closing stages of the match against Italy, the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 technical lead, Maria Van Kerkhove, tweeted: “Am I supposed to be enjoying watching transmission happening in front of my eyes?”
In June, the UK struck a deal with Uefa to allow Wembley to open up to 75% of its 90,000 capacity for three July game including the final between England and Italy.
The “events research programme” (ERP), a pilot scheme designed assess the safety of mass gatherings during the pandemic relies on people providing a negative rapid test as a condition of entry.
But the publication reported, Innova lateral flow tests used in the UK are not very reliable at spotting positive cases in the first few days after being infected and when administered by non-healthcare staff.
The WHO issued warnings that crowds would fuel coronavirus cases.
Katie Smallwood, WHO’s senior emergency officer, said earlier in July: “We know that in a context of increasing transmission, large mass gatherings can act as amplifiers”
And the European parliament’s committee on public health described the decision to allow 60,000 fans into Wembley as “a recipe for disaster”.
Hundreds of cases have already been linked to the tournament, including nearly 1,300 Scotland fans who travelled to London for their team’s fixture against England on 18 June.
Further cases were recorded including 300 Finns returning from St Petersburg, and multiple infections in Copenhagen.
The highest risk of transmission is in indoor settings with limited or no ventilation. But events that include lots of people in close proximity outdoors are also risky.
Am I supposed to be enjoying watching transmission happening in front of my eyes?
— Maria Van Kerkhove (@mvankerkhove) July 11, 2021