The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday that crowds at Euro 2020 football stadiums and in pubs and bars in host cities are driving the current rise in Coronavirus infections in Europe, according to Reuters.
WHO stated that a 10-week decline in new coronavirus infections across the region has come to an end and a new wave of infections is inevitable if football fans and others drop their guard.
“Last week, the number of new cases rose by 10%, driven by mixing of crowds in Euro 2020 host cities, travel and easing of social restrictions,” said WHO.
“We need to look much beyond just the stadiums themselves,” WHO’s senior emergency officer, Catherine Smallwood, told reporters.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Thursday the decision by European soccer’s governing body UEFA to allow big crowds at Euro 2020 “utterly irresponsible” for allowing big crowds at the Euro 2020 tournament during a spike in the coronavirus crisis from the Delta variant.
Seehofer said a match with 60,000 spectators – such as Hungary’s Puskas Arena and also planned for the semi-finals and final at London’s Wembley stadium – would inevitably promote the spread of COVID-19.
UEFA said in a statement to Reuters that mitigation measures at host venues “are fully aligned with the regulations set out by the competent local public health authorities”.
The rise in new COVID-19 cases is happening as the more contagious Delta virus variant spreads rapidly across Europe.
Nearly 2,000 people who live in Scotland have attended a Euro 2020 event while infectious with COVID-19, with many attending their group stage match against England in London on June 18, Scottish authorities said on Wednesday.
The rise in infections has raised concern that a third wave could spread across Europe in the autumn if people don’t get vaccinated.
“The concern of an autumn surge is still there, but what we see now is that it might come even earlier,” Smallwood said.