WHO Reveals Worrying Data on the Impact of EURO 202 on the COVID-19 Outbreak in Europe

WHO Reveals Worrying Data on the Impact of EURO 202 on the COVID-19 Outbreak in Europe

The World Health Organization (WHO) says crowds at Euro 2020 football stadiums as well as in pubs and bars have fueled an increase in COVID-19 infections in Europe.

The region's 10-week decline in coronavirus cases is over and a new wave of infections is inevitable if football fans and others are caught off guard, the WHO said.

"We need to look at more than just the stadium itself," WHO senior emergency officer Catherine Smallwood told reporters on Thursday.

Last week, the number of new cases rose 10 percent, triggered by crowd mixing in Euro 2020 host cities, travel and the easing of social restrictions, the WHO said.

“We need to see how people get there, are they traveling in big convoys of overcrowded buses? And when they leave the stadium, do they go to the lively bars and pubs to watch the game? It's these small, constant events that drive the spread of the virus," said Smallwood.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer insisted European football's governing body UEFA's decision to allow large crowds at Euro 2020 was "absolutely irresponsible".

UEFA said in a statement to Reuters that the mitigation measures in the host cities were "fully aligned with the regulations established by the competent local public health authorities".

The increase in new COVID-19 cases comes as the more contagious variant of the Delta virus spreads rapidly across Europe.

Nearly 2,000 people living in Scotland had attended Euro 2020 events while infected with COVID-19, with many attending the group stage match against England in London on June 18, Scottish authorities said Wednesday.

The rise in infections has raised fears that a third wave could spread across Europe in the fall if people are not vaccinated.

"The fear of a fall spike is still there, but what we're seeing now is that it may come early," Smallwood said.