Danish officials say delta variant reported during Euro 2020

Sports

Denmark’s managaer Kasper Hjulmand applauds fans as he walks off the pitch after the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Belgium, at the Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Thursday, June 17, 2021. Belgium won 2-1. (Wolfgang Rattay, Pool via AP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Danish health officials have urged soccer fans who attended the European Championship game between Denmark and Belgium on June 17 to be checked for the coronavirus after they found at least three people who later tested positive for the delta variant.

Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that about 4,000 people sat near those who tested positive.

Separately, the governing body of European soccer said Thursday it was “satisfied with the overall situation” in the tournament’s 11 host stadiums across the continent, where public authorities take the lead on managing virus issues.

“The overall rates of positive results following the group stage of the Euro 2020 tournament are still marginally low,” UEFA said in a statement.

All those who attended the three Euro 2020 games in Copenhagen had to provide valid documents showing they were not infected with COVID-19 before being allowed to enter Parken Stadium.

About 25,000 fans were allowed to attend the host team’s game against Belgium as restrictions began to ease in the country.

The head of the Danish Agency for Patient Safety said the people were infected independently of each other and were infected during the game.

“They did not get symptoms until three or four days later, which means that there must have been some kind of unknown source of infection present in the section where they sat,” Anette Lykke Petri told Danish broadcaster DR.

Denmark has reported 247 case of the variant since April 2. According to Danish media, the fans that tested positive were Danes.

Copenhagen will host one more match at Euro 2020 on Monday. Spain will face Croatia in the round of 16 in that game. Denmark next plays against Wales in Amsterdam on Saturday.

Heunicke said the Danish Patient Safety Authority and the Danish soccer federation “work closely together on effective infection detection.”

The Danish Patient Safety Authority said there is no recommendation to go in isolation.

The cases in Copenhagen are among the most notable virus intrusions on Euro 2020, which was postponed after the pandemic was declared last year.

Only a few players from the 24 teams have tested positive and missed games. England players Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell had to self-isolate as close contacts of Scotland midfielder Billy Gilmour, who tested positive for COVID-19. The three Chelsea teammates had a long talk in the tunnel after their teams played last Friday in London.

UEFA used the first day of no games at Euro 2020 since June 11 to update on managing virus risks.

Asked how Gilmour got the virus within the tournament bubble, Euro 2020 chief medical officer Dr. Zoran Bahtijarević said it was “extremely hard to trace where the infection happened, almost impossible.”

Bahtijarević said fans had been safer in the “controlled surroundings” of stadiums than if they had gathered informally for games played in empty venues.

“For the moment, what we have seen in Europe is that filling up the stadiums partly is a safe thing to do,” said Daniel Koch, a Swiss epidemiology expert who is advising UEFA this year.

Bahtijarević, the long-time Croatian national team doctor, said a couple of UEFA staff members have tested positive in the 11 different cities hosting games.

“So far we did not really find any unusual results, any unusual peaks,” he said, “that are connected with the mass event.”

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