Euro 2020 final at Wembley was a ‘superspreader’ event

Fans cheer ahead of the UEFA EURO 2020 final football match between Italy and England at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021.
(FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA / POOL / AFP)

BRUSSELS/ LISBON/ HAVANA/ SANTIAGO/ ZAGREB/ KAMPALA / OTTAWA/LONDON – The Euro 2020 soccer final between England and Italy in July was a "superspreader" event due to the level of COVID-19 infection found in or around London's Wembley Stadium on the day, according to official data published on Friday.

Public Health England said 2,295 people were likely to have been infectious with a further 3,404 people potentially acquiring infection at the July 11 match.

The match, with a crowd of around 67,000 inside the stadium, was England's first final in an international soccer tournament since the country hosted and won the 1966 World Cup.

"Euro 2020 was a unique occasion and it is unlikely we would see a similar impact on COVID-19 cases from future events," said Jenifer Smith, Public Health England's deputy medical director, in a statement.

"However, the data does show how easily the virus can spread when there is close contact and this should be a warning to us all as we try and return to a cautious normality once again."

Other trial events over a four-month period showed far fewer positive tests, and were either broadly in line with or lower than national averages.

The British Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone in July drew a 350,000-strong crowd, the largest in Britain in more than 18 months, over three days and had 585 cases recorded by NHS Test and Trace.

Of those cases, 343 were likely to have already been infectious around the time of the event and the rest likely to have acquired an infection then.

The Wimbledon tennis championships, with around 300,000 people attending over the two weeks, recorded 881 cases.

"We've shown that we can reintroduce mass sports and cultural events safely but it is important that people remain cautious when mixing in very crowded settings," said Culture Minister Oliver Dowden.

Friends sit at a table drinking beer on a terrace in Brussels, on May 8, 2021. (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

Belgium

Belgium will scrap COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants and cafes, allowing them to operate under their usual hours as part of the government's reopening plan and as more than two-thirds of the population have been vaccinated.

But the measures, which will take effect on Sept 1, will not apply to Brussels, home to the European Commission, the European Parliament and NATO, because of the low vaccination rate in some parts of the city.

While there will be no limits on the number of people sitting together at a table and no social distancing curbs, restaurant diners and cafe goers will still have to wear masks.

Restrictions and mask wearing requirements will be scraped for indoor events with up to 200 people and up to 400 for outdoor events. Events exceeding those numbers will only be open to people who have been vaccinated and have a negative virus test or have recovered from the virus.

Discotheques and dance halls will be allowed to re-open on Oct 1.

Belgium has 1.16 million confirmed cases, 25,312 deaths and 77,129 patients admitted to hospitals, official data showed.

Canada

Canada's latest seven-day average of 2,216 new cases reported daily on Aug 13-19 is an increase of 38 percent over the previous week, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) on Friday.

After several weeks of rising case counts in some of Canada's most populous jurisdictions, national severity trends have begun to increase, primarily involving unvaccinated people.

The country reported 2,923 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the cumulative total to 1,465,866 cases, including 26,789 deaths, according to CTV.

Chile

Chile received Friday a new shipment of COVID-19 vaccine doses from the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac.

The shipment, which was delivered at the Santiago international airport, will allow more people to receive vaccination, said Deputy Health Minister Paula Daza.

Chile has received more than 31.4 million doses from various laboratories, with 6.2 million doses having arrived since July 22.

READ MORE: WHO: Global new virus cases kept rising in last two months

Some 84 percent of Chile's target population has been fully vaccinated, according to the government. 

Croatia

Half of Croatia's adult population have been vaccinated with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) announced on Friday.

Croatia has recently seen an increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases. According to HZJZ, 468 new infections were confirmed in the past 24 hours.

To date, Croatia has reported a total of 368,887 cases, including 8,295 deaths.

Cuba

Cuba's drug regulator granted emergency approval for its homegrown Soberana 2 vaccine on Friday, allowing the drug's full inclusion in the country's inoculation program as it races to curb a Delta variant-fueled coronavirus outbreak.

The Soberana vaccine, which Cuba says has an efficacy rate of 91.2 percent, has already been used to vaccinate some health workers and ordinary citizens in areas with high rates of transmission as part of early intervention studies.

The Soberana 2 vaccine was approved last month for emergency use in Iran, which struck a deal with Cuba to produce the drug on an industrial scale in the Islamic republic.

A second locally produced COVID-19 vaccine, Abdala, which Cuba says has a 92.28 percent efficacy rate was approved by the Cuban regulator for use last month.

Late phase clinical trial data showing efficacy rates for either vaccine has yet to be published in peer-reviewed journals.

Pfizer

The US Food and Drug Administration is poised to fully approve Pfizer Inc’s coronavirus vaccine early next week as President Joe Biden’s administration tries to woo more Americans to get the shot.

The approval likely will come on Monday or Tuesday, according to one official familiar with the plans, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement. Pfizer’s vaccine has been in use in the US based on an emergency authorization. 

Portugal

Portugal has decided to loosen restrictions on the number of people allowed in restaurants and cultural venues two weeks earlier than planned, a government minister said on Friday, as the vaccination campaign moved faster than anticipated.

Cabinet Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva said the number of people allowed to sit together inside restaurants or cafes rose to eight from six, and to 15 from 10 for outside seating.

ALSO READ: Blood samples point to early COVID-19 infections in Italy

Cultural events, weddings and baptisms can fill up to 75 percent of the venue's capacity, up from 50 percent. Cultural venues, restaurants and other businesses can stay open until 2 am.

Portugal reported 2,507 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and 9 deaths, bringing the total tally to 1,014,632 cases – or roughly one in ten Portuguese – and 17,622 deaths.

As of Thursday, 70 percent of the population was fully vaccinated, health ministry data shows.

Uganda

Uganda will face a more lethal third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic if the public tires of following the preventive measures in the face of limited vaccines, authorities said Friday.

Scientists predict that the third wave of the pandemic is likely to peak at 4,000 cases per day, over two times higher than the second wave, Health Minister Ruth Aceng told reporters.

Figures from the health ministry show that at the peak of the second wave on July 10, the country recorded 1,735 confirmed cases. They have now dropped to a new low of 62 cases on Aug 15. 

US

Slightly more than 1 million doses were reported administered in the US for the second consecutive day as vaccinations increase amid the Delta variant surge.

The US Transportation Security Administration on Friday extended its requirements that people wear face masks on planes, buses and trains, as well as in airports, through Jan 18.

In Forida, 1,486 COVID-19 deaths were reported in the latest week, one of the highest weekly totals in the pandemic, according to a report from the department of health. 

The state also reported 150,118 infections among residents over the past week, marking its first drop in at least 10 weeks.

Meanwhile, Orlando’s mayor and local utilities on Friday asked the city’s residents to conserve water amid a rising need for liquid oxygen to treat coronavirus patients.