Some 2,300 people likely infected with COVID-19 attended last month’s Euro 2020 soccer final at London’s Wembley Stadium, turning the match into a so-called superspreader event, according to UK government figures.
Following the July 11 game between England and Italy, another 3,404 people who attended contracted coronavirus and may have been infected at Wembley, the Times daily reported Friday, citing data from Public Health England.
Those defined as likely to have had COVID at the time of the game tested positive within two days after the match, while people believed to have contracted coronavirus there received a positive result three days to a week after.
Health officials quoted in the newspaper described the game as “once in a generation” and not typical of other mass events, which they maintained could be held safely without significant COVID spread.
“This was the first time an English [men’s] team were in an international final for 55 years, generating a sense of the final stages being a ‘once in a generation’ occasion. This will not be replicated for all taking place over the winter, nor for all [soccer] matches,” the unnamed officials said.
The report also noted that at the Wimbledon tennis tournament in June, the rates of those already believed to be infections and people who likely got COVID there were far lower than at the Euro final.
Despite an early summer surge in COVID infections, the British government on July 19 removed most remaining restrictions on social and business interactions. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson trumpeted the moment as “Freedom Day,” saying Britain’s successful vaccination program meant people were much less likely to get seriously ill or die from COVID.
But after a drop in confirmed new infections following July 19, cases have plateaued at an average of around 25,000 a day, more than 10 times higher than in early May. On Thursday, the UK reported 33,074 new cases, the highest daily rate since July 23.
The seven-day average for coronavirus-related hospital admissions is about eight times higher than in May and deaths are 15 times higher.
All of the figures remain well below their winter peaks, when more than 60,000 people a day were testing positive for the disease.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.