Football could be to blame for rise in infections

Two major football events in Portugal recently.

football fans celebrate sporting's success

Two major footballing occasions in the last three weeks have been blamed by a number of sources for the sudden and unexpected rise in the number of COVID-19 cases on the mainland – a rise that has put Portugal’s position on the UK’s “green list” at risk – reported here earlier today.

Experts warned at the time that an increase in Covid-19 cases was “practically inevitable” following the huge crowds that gathered in Lisbon on Tuesday, May 11, to celebrate Sporting’s first championship title in 19 years.

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Thousands of fans gathered outside of Estádio José Alvalade before Sporting’s 1-0 victory over Boavista, which earned them a title that millions of fans across the country had been waiting to witness for almost a generation. Celebrations were quickly marred by violent confrontations between fans and police, which had to fire rubber bullets and use batons to disperse crowds.

The “Sporting effect” was also witnessed in Madeira where supporters broke the curfew and celebrated on the Avenida do Mar in Funchal. Those who were part of the celebrations were asked to take an Antigen test by the health authorities on the island.

The second major football event involved the 16,500 English fans who arrived in Porto at the weekend to see Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Manchester City in the Champions League final. Thousands were pictured ignoring social distancing rules and wearing face masks as they thronged in bars by the Douro river.

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The regional health authority for the Porto area said those who were in or near should “reduce contacts over the next two weeks” and look out for Covid symptoms.  

Official figures show the seven-day average of Covid infections in Portugal has risen by 56% since the country was put on the Government’s green list on May 7.

Cases have risen by 21% in the last seven days – in contrast with neighbouring Spain, which has seen cases drop by 6.5%.

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Joint Biosecurity Centre scientists were on Wednesday crunching through the data to help ministers determine whether Portugal should be axed from the green list when they meet later today.

One extra piece of data could be critical to the JBC decision on Portugal – the PCR test results from the thousands of Britons who have returned to the UK since the lifting of quarantine will have been genomically analysed. The Telegraph observes that this may throw up a game-changing insight into Covid in Portugal. If it has, it will be another roller coaster for a country that was initially the only European nation on the UK’s first hotel quarantine red list earlier this year before dropping through amber to green.

Of the 12 countries and territories on the UK’s initial green list last month, only Portugal and Brunei have seen infection rates rise.

A new tab has been added to the top of each page with a link to resources dealing with COVID-19 in Madeira – this covers the latest government regulations on travel to the island, how to get a PCR test, and many other links that will be useful to people wanting to travel to and from Madeira

COVID-19 in Madeira: daily updates can be found on an earlier post

Vaccinations in Madeira: updates can be found on an earlier post.

6 thoughts on “Football could be to blame for rise in infections”

  1. significant increase; but unless I’m missing something? (quite likely!); 50 odd per million, therefore equates to just 5 per 100,000? I live in a part of the UK (Devon) with the lowest rates in the country………4 per 100,000!

  2. I would have thought that the Champions League game in Porto was an unlikely conduit for infection not least all of those travelling will have had to provide negative PCR tests before being allowed to fly.

    It is disappointing that UK newspapers like the Telegraph and Mail are unhelpfully speculating and sensationalising the issue. Scientific research has shown that Covid is unlikely to appear as a positive test, one to five days after exposure, a test between seven to ten days is a much better indicator of infection. As the Final was played on Saturday with thousands arriving in Porto that day, the timescale for people to be tested positive by Tuesday / Wednesday simply does not work.

    I have been trying to find a real-time infection map, but without success, this would show in which part of Portugal infections were spiking.

  3. Why has it taken so long to realise that stuffing 1000sof football fan into an enclosed space might just contribute to the covid transmissions. On the cliff tops, where i live amongst frsh air and space, the infection rates are almost zero.


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