Covid: Euro 2020 final crowds like 'watching transmission in front of my eyes', says WHO expert

Credit: PA

An epidemiologist from the World Health Organization (WHO) has condemned scenes of unmasked crowds singing, hugging and shouting at the Euro 2020 final in London.

Covid-19 technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove said "watching transmission happening in front of my eyes" - as 60,000 spectators gathered to watch the clash between Italy and England at Wembley - was "devastating".

Despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, the UK is seeing a fresh wave of Covid-19 fuelled by the more transmissible Delta variant.

In reaction to the scenes at Wembley, Ms Van Kerkhove wrotes: "Am I supposed to be enjoying watching transmission happening in front of my eyes?

England fans outside the ground during the UEFA Euro 2020 Final at Wembley Stadium. Credit: Zac Goodwin/PA

"The #COVID19 pandemic is not taking a break tonight ... #SARSCoV2 #DeltaVariant will take advantage of unvaccinated people, in crowded settings, unmasked, screaming/shouting/singing. Devastating."

The latest data shows men were almost one-third more likely to test positive for Covid-19 than women latest figures show, and it's thought that gathering to watch Euro 2020 at grounds and fan parks may be the reason why. Tens of thousands - many unmasked - gathered in central London in the run up to the match.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the decision to allow more than 60,000 people to attend the final earlier this month, saying it was being hosted in a "careful and controlled manner with testing of everybody who goes there". He says vaccines have created a "considerable wall of immunity".

The Prime Minister will host a press conference on Monday where he is expected to say that the country can move to Step 4 of the plan to lift measures, including ending the legal requirement to wear masks, a move condemned by many scientists.

But he will also warn cases will rise as rules designed to suppress the coronavirus are removed.In its latest epidemiological update, WHO said Covid infections were rising steeply globally with Europe experiencing a sharp increase of 30 %. More than 4 million people have died since the start of the pandemic.

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