- Title: Experts warn on danger of Covid spread because of Euros
- Date: 8th July 2021
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (JULY 7, 2021) (REUTERS) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** VARIOUS OF FANS WALKING DOWN WEMBLEY WAY AHEAD OF ENGLAND V DENMARK LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (JULY 8, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) STEVEN RILEY, PROFESSOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE DYNAMICS AT IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON SAYING ON COVID NOW BEING 30% MORE PREVALENT IN MEN IN THE UK IS LINKED TO THE EUROS: "That's right, I have to be a little careful because we've not looked at it explicitly in the study, but as a male who's grown up in Britain and a football fan I have observed the social behaviour of men and women over many years, in respect to football tournaments and it seems plausible to me that in relative terms the amount of social mixing is increased more probably in men than it has in women, but again I would emphasise that's our interpretation of the data and we haven't been able to look at it specifically in the study." LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (JULY 7, 2021) (REUTERS) FANS WALKING DOWN WEMBLEY WAY GLASGOW, SCOTLAND, UK (JULY 8, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) DENIS KINANE, AN IMMUNOLOGIST AND CO-FOUNDER OF TESTING COMPANY CIGNPOST DIAGNOSTICS SAYING WHETHER SEEING LOTS OF FANS AT WEMBLEY FILLS HIM WITH CONCERN: "In a way it does. I can understand it completely, I can understand the occasion and I think this is quite human for all of us to actually get involved in this and it was a fantastic event, and I think it's good for people, it's good for society to have these events. But at the same time, I think we lost an opportunity, I think we lost an opportunity because I think it should have been more obvious, I mean, I think what the teams should have done, they should have actually been socially distanced and doing something a little bit more than they did. I mean, essentially they are just living in this bubble, they're comfortable with that, they're hugging, they're talking, they're doing all these things, you understand that they can do this because they are tested and they are by and largely free of Covid within those bubbles, but it's the perception outside that is a problem. And indeed, I think that they should, just as they do for Black Lives Matter, make these pronouncements, they make these symbolistic type of let's say endeavours in order to actually get messages across. I think we are still in the pandemic, I think we still have problems with these populations, particularly this population is less immunised than other populations transmitting the virus. And they're transmitting it back to their families they are transmitting it to other people. We have a social responsibility and beyond the football teams have also." LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (JULY 7, 2021) (REUTERS) FANS DANCING AND SINGING AHEAD OF MATCH AT WEMBLEY GLASGOW, SCOTLAND, UK (JULY 8, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) DENIS KINANE, AN IMMUNOLOGIST AND CO-FOUNDER OF TESTING COMPANY CIGNPOST DIAGNOSTICS, SAYING: "I think we should be doing more, we should be refraining from hugging as much as we're doing. I can understand it. I can understand the whole emotion of it and also I think that it would be nicer if a lot of the fans that we saw coming back from the game etc were donning their masks. I saw some of them with their masks around their necks, they were obviously thinking about it, but it would have been nicer if we just gripped it as a nation and said we were still in this pandemic, let's just keep doing what we can do to be sensible." LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (JULY 7, 2021) (REUTERS) FANS LEAVING WEMBLEY AFTER DENMARK V ENGLAND MATCH SUFFOLK, ENGLAND, UK (JULY 8, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) KEITH STILL, VISITING PROFESSOR OF CROWD SCIENCE AT SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "The stadiums are being correctly managed, for sure. The unfortunate thing is all of these fan zones, where we see vast celebrations, large crowds, hugging each other, screaming at it each other." WHITE FLASH 10, (SOUNDBITE) (English) KEITH STILL, VISITING PROFESSOR OF CROWD SCIENCE AT SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY "So that's the scary thing, though the stadiums are being managed, the fact we now have a whole nation celebrating and rightly so, it's scary because these fan zone areas are not regulated in the same way and they do involve large crowds gathering and celebrating." LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (JULY 7, 2021) (REUTERS) ENGLAND FANS CELEBRATING IN CENTRAL LONDON SUFFOLK, ENGLAND, UK (JULY 8, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) KEITH STILL, VISITING PROFESSOR OF CROWD SCIENCE AT SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "That really is the worry of these celebratory crowds, not necessarily taking the same sort of precautions. We were not out of the Covid lockdown yet, we are still under government guidance and legislation for mask-wearing in places of the public assembly until the 19th of July, but try telling that to somebody celebrating that England is through to the finals. You've got a problem in terms of crowd management on your hands there." LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (JULY 7, 2021) (REUTERS) FANS CELEBRATING IN CENTRAL LONDON
- Embargoed: 22nd July 2021 16:40
- Keywords: Denis Kinane Euro 2020 Imperial College London Keith Still Steven Riley covid
- Location: VARIOUS LOCATIONS
- City: VARIOUS LOCATIONS
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Europe,Soccer,Sport,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA001EKZCCAN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: "Football's coming home," goes the chant of England fans at this year's Euro 2020 tournament, but if so, it might be bringing COVID-19 with it.
England will face Italy at the final of the soccer tournament in London's Wembley Stadium, which has already hosted two semi-finals over two days this week with crowds of around 60,000 people.
But the nation is facing a new wave of COVID-19 cases, fuelled by a highly contagious Delta variant and increased social mixing as England emerges from its third national lockdown.
Italy has also seen coronavirus cases start to pick up again, and epidemiologists in both countries warned that the tournament might help to fuel the virus.
Imperial College London has found a quadrupling of COVID prevalence in the last month, with women 30% less likely then women to test positive, due to differences in social mixing patterns which could in part be driven by Euro 2020.
"It seems the most the most plausible explanation is that men are having more frequent close contacts," Steven Riley, Professor of Infectious Disease Dynamics at the university, told Reuters.
He added that prior experience of football tournaments meant a Euro 2020 effect was plausible a driver of the difference, but the study had not specifically looked at the tournament.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has delayed the full reopening of England's economy until July 19, a week after the final, but people can still gather indoors in bars and pubs, with some restrictions, to watch games
The Wembley matches are "pilot events" which allow for larger crowds where supporters must test negative for COVID or be fully vaccinated.
Ahead of the semi-final against Denmark, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged fans to support England "enthusiastically but in a responsible way."
Jubilant fans were pictured packing bars, streets, and even clambering on top of a London bus in the aftermath of England's extra-time 2-1 victory over Denmark.
But for a nation swept up in footballing fervour after 55 years since England's last major final and 16 months of COVID restrictions, politicians and pundits are loathe to rein in the celebrations.
Germany has queried Europe's soccer governing body UEFA's move to allow bigger crowds in stadiums as the tournament has gone on, and the World Health Organization has flagged the importance of looking beyond stadiums into pubs and bars where people gather for matches.
"I think the stadiums are being correctly managed... (but) the fact that we've got the whole nation now celebrating - and rightly so - it's scary," Keith Still, visiting professor of Crowd Science at Suffolk University, told Reuters, highlighting fan-zones as a particular risk.
Fans in Italy will also gather for the final, and junior Italian health minister Andrea Costa urged people to wear masks, adding: "Prudence does not mean fear."
"Celebrating is right after so many restrictions," he told newspaper La Repubblica.
Carlo Signorelli, professor of Hygiene and Public Health at San Raffaele University in Milan, said masks could stop the spread of droplets among fans who were singing or shouting.
"We've had it for a long time, so putting it on one more evening won't be the end of the world," he told the newspaper.
(Production: Iain Axon and Alistair Smout)
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