Euro 2020: WHO worries about easing COVID restrictions | Coronavirus pandemic News

The World Health Organization has expressed concern over the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions by countries hosting Euro 2020 matches, noting that some are already seeing an increase in cases.

“WHO is concerned about the easing of restrictions in some of the host countries,” said Robb Butler, executive director of the WHO Regional Office for Europe, in an emailed statement to the agency. AFP press.

“Some of the stadiums hosting the tournament are now increasing the number of spectators allowed,” said Butler.

The United Nations health agency did not single out any city, but the United Kingdom announced on Tuesday that more than 60,000 spectators would be allowed at Wembley Stadium in London for the semi-finals and final of the tournament. Originally, it was planned to limit the crowd to 40,000 people, or a capacity of about 50%.

The new levels mean the stadium will be at 75% capacity for the final three games, which will end with the final on July 11.

All ticket holders will need to have either a negative COVID-19 test or proof of full vaccination – two doses received 14 days before the game.

Scotland fans in the stands before the game at Hampden Park between Scotland and Croatia [Andy Buchanan/Pool via Reuters]

Germany and Italy are worried

The announcement came after Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called for the final to be moved from England due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the country.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged UEFA to act responsibly regarding plans to host the final in London due to security concerns linked to the spread of the virus there.

The EU’s top health-care lawmaker echoed the Chancellor’s comments.

“Our health is a priority. The spread of the Delta variant makes it impossible for 40,000 spectators to see the final match in the London stadium, ”said Peter Liese.

UEFA said it had “no intention” of changing the venues for the semi-finals and finals.

“UEFA, the English FA and the English authorities are working closely together successfully to organize the semi-finals and the EURO final at Wembley and there are no plans to change the location of these matches,” he said. a UEFA spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters. news agency Tuesday.

UEFA has also been in talks with the UK government to ease travel restrictions linked to the virus to allow up to 2,500 VIPs to attend the final.

England fans inside Wembley Stadium ahead of the game between England and Czech Republic [Neil Hall/Pool via Reuters]

Increase in COVID infections

In some “host cities, cases of COVID-19 are already on the rise in the area where the matches will take place,” WHO’s Butler said.

In areas where infection rates are on the rise, WHO Europe has called on affected cities to act quickly.

“By learning from experience, we need to act quickly on signals showing increasing cases.

“Expand testing and sequencing; intensify contact tracing; and rapidly develop a very high vaccination rate among vulnerable and most at risk people, ”he added.

In Denmark, 29 cases have been detected in connection with the Euro 2020 games taking place in Copenhagen.

The reported infections were in people who were either already sick during the match or infected during the match, said health official Anette Lykke Petri.

“In theory, there could be more people infected,” she added.

In Denmark, the authorized audience capacity was also recently increased to 25,000 from 16,000. The higher number was applied for the first time for last Thursday’s match between Denmark and Belgium.

In Budapest, the matches of the Puskas Arena, with a capacity of 68,000 seats, were played in a full stadium.

UEFA also deprived two cities, Dublin and Bilbao, of hosting matches in the tournament because the capacity allowed was too low.

Among the host cities, the Russia of St. Petersburg in particular has reported an increase in the number of cases in recent days.

Meanwhile, the trend is downward in Seville in Spain and in Rome, Italian authorities assure that no competition-related COVID-19 cases have been detected.

While the situation across Europe has improved over the past two months, the WHO has nonetheless urged to remain cautious.

“Although we have gone far, we have not gone far enough,” warned Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe in early June.

The vaccination rate was still too low to protect the area from a resurgence, he said.

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