Sports World

‘Super-spreader Euro 2020’: Europe risks new wave of infections, WHO warns

The Covid-19 infections in Europe have risen by 10% in the past week after two months of decline and risk of a new wave of cases is growing, the World Health Organization has said.

Regional director Hans Kluge blamed sluggish vaccine rollouts, new variants and increased social mixing.

There are also concerns that the Euro 2020 could act as a “super-spreader”.

Hundreds of fans returning from London and St Petersburg have tested positive.

WHO senior emergency officer Catherine Smallwood called on host cities to do more to monitor the movement of fans.

“What we need to look at is around the stadia,” she said, highlighting travel before and after matches. “What’s happening after the games? Are they going into crowded bars and pubs?”


The cases the highly infectious Delta variant, which first originated in India is seen as the biggest threat by many countries in Europe. The European Union’s disease control agency ECDC estimates that it could account for 90% of cases by the end of August.

Russia has seen record numbers of deaths for the past three days, with 672 fatalities and 23,543 new cases announced on Thursday alone. Most of the new cases in Moscow are of the Delta variant, and top health officials are also talking of a new Delta-plus variant.

Euro 2020 host city St Petersburg recorded 115 deaths in the past 24 hours on Thursday, on the eve of its sixth and last tournament match between Spain and Switzerland.

Finnish health authorities appealed to the public to avoid travelling to Russia after 400 infections were linked to fans returning from St Petersburg on 21 June.

Public Health Scotland said on Wednesday that 1,294 Covid cases had been linked to people who had travelled to London for the Euro 2020 match against England on 18 June, including 397 fans who were at Wembley.

Across the UK, another 27,989 cases have been recorded, the highest number since January. However, 62.7% of UK adults have had two vaccine doses.

European football’s governing body, Uefa, was branded “irresponsible” by German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who said it was clear that hugging supporters would help spread the virus. He was particularly critical of the decision to allow 60,000 supporters into the stadium at Budapest and at Wembley in London for the semi-finals and final.

“I cannot explain why UEFA is not being sensible… I suspect it is due to commercialism,” he told reporters. UEFA is adamant that decisions on the number of fans allowed inside a stadium “fall under the responsibility of the competent local authorities”.

The EU’s medicine agency says that two doses of the vaccines it has so far approved appear to provide protection against the Delta variant.

While vaccine rollouts have accelerated across the EU in recent months and at least one in three people have had both doses, that is not the case in Russia.

President Vladimir Putin appealed on Wednesday for Russians to get vaccinated, however only 16% have had a single shot so far. Moscow health clinics have begun offering booster jabs in an attempt to curb the spread.