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Euro 2020: World Health Organisation concerned about easing of COVID-19 restrictions in host cities

·3-min read

Copenhagen: The World Health Organisation on Tuesday said they were concerned about the easing of COVID-19 restrictions by nations hosting Euro 2020 matches, noting that some were already seeing rising cases.

"WHO is concerned about easing of restrictions in some of the host countries," Robb Butler, an executive director at WHO's Regional Office for Europe, said in an emailed statement to AFP.

"A few of the stadiums hosting the tournament are now increasing the number of spectators allowed," Butler said.

The UN health agency did not single out any cities, but Britain announced Tuesday that more than 60,000 spectators will be allowed at the Wembley stadium in London for the semi-finals and final of the tournament.

Originally, they were intended to limit the crowd to 40,000.

The UEFA have also been in talks with the UK government to ease virus-related travel restrictions to allow up to 2,500 VIPs to attend the final on 11 July.

"In some host cities, COVID-19 cases are already on the rise in the area where matches will be held," said Butler.

In areas where infection rates are on the rise, WHO Europe called on the cities concerned to act quickly.

"Learning from experience, we must act fast on signals showing increasing cases.

"Expanding testing and sequencing; stepping up contact tracing; and building very high vaccine uptake fast among those vulnerable and most at risk," he added.

In Denmark, 29 cases have been detected in connection with the Euro games taking place in Copenhagen.

The reported infections involved people who were either already ill during the match or were infected during the game, Anette Lykke Petri, a health authority official, told a Tuesday press briefing.

"In theory, there could be more people infected," she added.

In Denmark, the permitted audience have also recently been increased to 25,000, from 16,000. The higher number was first applied for last Thursday's game between Denmark and Belgium.

In Budapest, games at the Puskas Arena, which has a capacity of 68,000, have been played to a full stadium.

UEFA had also stripped two cities, Dublin and Bilbao, from hosting games in the tournament because the capacities allowed were too low.

Among the host cities, Russia's St Petersburg in particular has reported an increase in the number of cases in recent days.

Meanwhile the trend has been downward in Spain's Seville and in Rome, Italian authorities assure that no cases of COVID-19 linked to the competition have been detected.

While the situation across Europe has improved over the past two months, the WHO have nevertheless urged continued caution.

"Although we have come far, we have not come far enough," Hans Kluge, WHO's regional director for Europe, warned in early June.

Vaccine uptake was still too low to protect the region from a resurgence, he said.

Also See: Euro 2020: Gareth Southgate defends England’s decision to take the knee in warm up games, says ‘players are role models’

Euro 2020: Portugal defender Pepe urges teammates to be 'tighter and more solid' against France

Euro 2020: Wembley looking forward to hosting semis, final 'safely and securely', says Boris Johnson's spokesman

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