Football: Nearly 2,000 Scots with Covid-19 attended Euro 2020 events

Scotland supporters cheer ahead of the Euro 2020 match against Croatia at Hampden Park in Glasgow on June 22, 2021.
Scotland supporters cheer ahead of the Euro 2020 match against Croatia at Hampden Park in Glasgow on June 22, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Nearly 2,000 people who live in Scotland have attended Euro 2020 events while infectious with Covid-19, Public Health Scotland said on Wednesday (June 30).

Thousands of Scottish football fans were in London for their game against England in the European Championship group stage on June 18.

Many headed to Wembley Stadium to see the game in person or gathered in the city centre, while Hampden Stadium in Glasgow has also hosted games.

Of the 1,991 people identified as having attended a Euro 2020 event while infectious, 1,294 had travelled to London and 397 had gone to Wembley, Public Health Scotland said.

Cases were labelled if the person in question had seen a match at Hampden or Wembley, gone to a fan zone in Glasgow, or participated in an informal gathering at a pub or a house to watch a match.

There were only 38 reports of people attending Scotland's home game against Croatia while contagious, with 37 reports from Scotland's match against the Czech Republic at Hampden.

The latest numbers come as scrutiny increases over the tournament and its impact on the continent's battle against the coronavirus. Despite a successful vaccination drive, Britain, like much of the continent, is experiencing a surge in new coronavirus cases, blamed on the Delta variant that was first detected in India.

The United Kingdom recorded a further 26,068 cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, the highest daily figure since Jan 29 and sending the seven-day tally up 70 per cent on the week before, official data showed.

Russia is also in the grip of the Delta variant, with its Covid-19 death toll hitting a new record on Wednesday. It reported 669 Covid deaths in the past 24 hours - a pandemic high for the second day in a row, according to government figures. Nationwide infections grew by 21,042, bringing Russia's caseload to more than 5.5 million, the tally showed. With 135,214 deaths from the virus, Russia has the highest official toll from Covid-19 in Europe.

One of the pandemic hot spots is the city of Saint Petersburg, which is due to host a Euro 2020 quarter-final on Friday in front of thousands of fans, many of them flying in from abroad for the match.

The city has already hosted six Euro 2020 matches and is where 300 Finland supporters caught the coronavirus after they travelled to the city for their team's defeat against Belgium.

That prompted Finland's health authorities to urge fans returning from European Championship matches in Russia to urgently seek testing.

Last week, Prime Minister Sanna Marin and top public health officials expressed alarm after testing staff at the Nordic country's Russian border which was overwhelmed by the arrival of some 3,000 fans, returning home after Finland were knocked out of the tournament by Belgium.

About 800 Finnish travellers, particularly those arriving by coach, were let into the country without testing and without a formal order to quarantine.

"Almost 300 coronavirus infections have been detected among Finnish travellers returning from Saint Petersburg," the public health authorities said on Monday, recommending fans quarantine themselves for at least 72 hours until they receive a negative result.

On Monday, Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori told a press conference that hopes of lifting further restrictions in the country would now have to be put on hold, in part because of the spike in infections from the tournament.

"There are so many infections," Vapaavuori said, adding: "The situation is clearly different from what it was a week ago."

Kristiina Poikajarvi, of the South Savo regional administrative agency which is in charge of the border area, complained to newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that "some tourists won't for example answer their phone to the contact tracers, and are just carrying on their lives as normal".

The Nordic country of 5.5 million has recorded 95,742 infections and 973 deaths due to Covid-19 as of Wednesday.