Nearly 1,300 Scotland fans who travelled to London to watch their team play England on 18 June later tested positive for coronavirus, with a total of almost 2,000 football-related cases emerging from Test and Protect data on Wednesday, as Scotland continued to break its record for daily case numbers.
Public Health Scotland (PHS) analysis published on Wednesday revealed that 1,991 people who later tested positive had attended one or more Euro 2020 events during their infection period, a time when they “may have unknowingly transmitted their infection to others”.
Nearly two-thirds of cases reported travelling to London for a Euro 2020 event, including 397 people who were at Wembley for Scotland’s match against England.
Scotland were allocated 2,600 tickets for Wembley because of Covid restrictions, but thousands more travelled to London despite warnings from the Scottish government and the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, not to do so unless they had a safe place to watch the match. There were strict entry requirements for Wembley matches, including having a negative Covid-19 test or proof of full vaccination.
The report states: “PHS is working with Test and Protect and NHS boards to ensure that all public health actions are taken in the close contacts of these Euro 2020 cases as part of the 32,539 cases that were reported to the Test and Protect case management system during this period.”
Nearly three-quarters of these cases were people between 20 and 39 years of age and nine out of every 10 cases were male. Attendance at hospitality venues was the most frequently reported tag, representing 34% of all tags. A relatively small number of cases reported attending the Fan Zone in Glasgow, or Scotland’s two home matches at Hampden.
Scotland recorded 3,887 cases on Wednesday – its highest ever. At her Tuesday briefing, the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, was asked why rates had risen so steeply in Scotland in recent weeks, in comparison with the rest of the UK.
She pointed out that the Delta variant was first seeded into Glasgow, the country’s biggest city, and so was able to spread more quickly than elsewhere in the UK, and also reminded viewers that Scotland had lower population immunity because fewer people had the virus in earlier waves, thus there was a larger “susceptible population”.
Sturgeon also said the latest figures showed that 80% of new cases were among the under-44s and just 2% in the over-65s. But the latest data from the National Records of Scotland indicates that older people continue to be worst affected by the virus. Its weekly data release on Wednesday revealed that there were 17 deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate over the past week, an increase of four on the previous week, but those deaths were all in the over-65 age group.
Sturgeon reassured Scots that the increase was not resulting in a commensurate rise in people becoming seriously ill or requiring hospital treatment, and that she remained hopeful that her government would be able to continue lifting restrictions, first on 19 July, taking the whole country to level 0, and then 9 August, seeing the removal of all major legal coronavirus restrictions.
Asked about the high number of cases among Scottish fans who travelled to Wembley, Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said: “Everyone that will be attending the final or semi-final, or indeed that were watching at Wembley last night, were taking part in an events research programme which required strict entry requirements including negative tests or full vaccination. And that’s the approach we’ll be using going forward, and obviously the results of those pilots are carefully monitored.”
The report also suggested the increase in case numbers had put pressure on Scotland’s contact-tracing system, with a significant increase in the time taken between Test and Protect logging a case and the individual who tested positive being interviewed, from 50% of people interviewed within 24 hours in the week ending 20 June, dropping to 29% between 21 and 25 June.