Scientists feared an epidemic rebound linked to Euro football. According to data from Public Heath England, revealed by the Times, the sporting event was indeed an accelerator in the increase in the number of cases recorded in the following weeks.
In the United Kingdom, which hosted part of the matches, along with ten other cities and countries, between June 11 and July 11, more than 9,000 detected Covid-19 infections were linked to Euro matches. The matches were monitored as part of the government's mass event testing program and proved, according to scientists, that the tournament posed "a significant risk to public health", reports The Guardian.
Data from the joint Department for Culture and Public Heath England study, released on Friday, found that more than 85 per cent of all infections linked to the 49 days of sporting events came from the eight Euro matches which take place took place in England, and mainly during the semi-final and the final.
On this last day alone, more than 5,000 people were or have been infected, again according to this study, out of the 67,000 supporters present in Wembley Stadium for the final. In addition, of this total, around 3,000 people were already contagious before going to the match, while more than 2,000 fans would have contracted the virus during the match between Italy and England, the report said.
“The Euro 2020 tournament and England's progress to the Euro final created a significant public health risk across the UK, even when England were playing abroad. the report. This risk did not come only from the individuals attending the event itself, but included the activities undertaken during the trip and the associated social activities."
By comparison, the Wimbledon tennis tournament recorded 881 positive cases out of the 300,000 spectators in the fortnight, while the Formula 1 Grand Prix at Silverstone generated only 585 cases out of the 350,000 spectators present.
Such a difference in contamination between these sporting events and the Euro pushes government scientists to raise the idea of allowing football fans to bring their drinks in their place, in order to prevent people from congregating at the bar. "The research teams present at each of these events verbally reported stark differences in the behavior of the crowd and spectators" further notes the report, which would explain the disparities in figures.
While another event of such international stature isn't scheduled for at least a year and a half - and the World Cup in Qatar - "the data shows how easily the virus can spread through close contact, and this should be a wake-up call to all of us as we try to return to cautious normality once again,” warns Jenifer Smith, deputy medical director at Public Heath England.