UK govt reports eight COVID cases after three Wembley pilot events

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Eight spectators out of a total of 30,000 tested positive for coronavirus after attending test events at Wembley Stadium, including England's two domestic football cup finals, the British government said Friday.

The figures could sway debate over whether to hold the Euro 2020 final in Wembley given the current rapid spread of coronavirus in England, driven by the Delta variant first detected in India.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi this week said he would prefer to avoid a final "in a country where the risk of infection is of course very high".

But London acknowledged that the latest figures "should be interpreted with extreme caution".

Just 15 percent of attendees returned PCR tests taken both before and after the pilot events.

And the programme of a total nine gatherings—also including pop music's Brit Awards and the World Snooker Championship—took place in April-May, a period of "low prevalence" of the virus.

Some 28 cases were recorded among the 58,000 total attendees at the nine pilot events.

Of those 28 cases, 11 were identified as potentially infectious at an event, with the 17 others identified as potentially infected at or around the time of an event.

Circus nightclub in Liverpool, which hosted nearly 7,000 people over two nights, saw 10 cases, while the World Snooker Championship saw six cases recorded.

The Brit Awards at London's O2 Arena hosted 3,500 guests, of which none later tested positive.

Eight positive tests were recorded across all three pilot events held at Wembley Stadium, which saw around 30,000 people attend the FA Cup Semi Final, Carabao Cup Final and FA Cup Final.

An outdoor festival pilot at Sefton Park in Liverpool attended by more than 6,000 people had two cases, as did a five-kilometre (three-mile) run at Kempton Park in southeast England from 2,000 participants.

"The findings and learnings will help event organisers plan for large audiences," said Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.

Since the tests, the emergence of the highly-infectious Delta variant has delayed plans for a full reopening, although remain low.

A second phase of events was completed this month, including group stage Euro 2020 matches at Wembley, the England versus New Zealand cricket Test match in Birmingham, and the Royal Ascot horse race meeting.

Results of these events are still being collected.

© 2021 AFP

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