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FOOTBALL

Danish football fans crowd together after rare championship win

An expert reacted with calm over the potential effect on Covid-19 infection numbers after thousands of football fans gathered near Copenhagen on Monday.

Danish football fans crowd together after rare championship win
Brøndby fans celebrate after their team became Danish champions following the Superliga match against FC Nordsjælland on Monday. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

Fans of Brøndby IF gathered to celebrate in large crowds after their team won its first Danish league championship for 16 years. Pictures show people standing close together, often without face masks.

The “naturally” increases the chances of transmission of Covid-19 but should not be considered a major cause for concern, according to an expert.

“Seen in isolation with regard to infections, it is clear that this will increase the chance of infection. There’s no doubt about that,” said Søren Riis Paludan, professor of virology and immunology at Aarhus University.

“But at the same time we should remember that very many people in risk groups have been vaccinated, so even with increased infections amongst young Brøndby fans, there won’t be many who can pass the infection on and cause serious Covid-19,” Paludan continued.

The Brøndby fan club asked its supporters prior to yesterday’s decisive match to take a coronavirus test and reacquaint themselves with guidelines.

An increased risk of infection in large crowds exists despite the celebrations taking place outdoors, according to Paludan.

“It’s clear that when you are celebrating and have many people close together, there will be an increased risk of infection,” he said.

“But most people in risk groups are vaccinated, I also think that maybe they should be allowed to let loose a bit after 16 years without a championship. So I’m not offended,” the professor added.

Brøndby is located in Copenhagen’s western suburbs, where areas of increased infection rates have regularly been reported during the pandemic.

“We should also remember we have the season on our side. And we had equivalent conversations last year when there were demonstrations and other things. It won’t get out of control,” Paludan said.

Current coronavirus restrictions in Denmark limit outside public gatherings to 100 people outdoors and 50 people indoors.

But demonstrations can be allowed to exceed the outdoors limit if police are notified and approve them.

This was the case on Monday afternoon in relation to Brøndby’s celebrations, when West Copenhagen Police were notified of three such events.

Member comments

  1. How can this professor, Søren Riis Paludan, say

    “But at the same time we should remember that very many people in risk groups have been vaccinated, so even with increased infections amongst young Brøndby fans, there won’t be many who can pass the infection on and cause serious Covid-19,” Paludan continued.

    Vaccinated persons can still transmit the virus!!!!!!!!

    1. Breakthrough infections among people who are vaccinated are rare and when they occur there tends to be a much lower viral load, making transmission of the virus far less likely. So yes, vaccinated people can transmit the virus, but it is far less likely.

      That said, it is absurd to have a large event such as this in the midst of a pandemic. Young people can and do get sick with this virus. There is still much we do not understand about the long-term health implications of infection with SARS-CoV-2.

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COVID-19 ALERT

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.

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