Coronavirus: French football, rugby clubs become Covid-19 hotbeds

Coronavirus: French football, rugby clubs become Covid-19 hotbeds

PARIS (BLOOMBERG) – France’s football and rugby clubs have become hot spots for the spread of the coronavirus after training and competition resumed following a summer break.

Since the end of July, health authorities have reported 88 Covid-19 clusters linked to sports clubs, most of them in the first two weeks of September, France’s public health agency said on Thursday (Sept 17).

Matches and training sessions may contribute to the spread of the virus, the agency said, after France lifted most restrictions on team sports in June.

“This increase is linked to the gradual resumption of training and competitions, in a context of increased viral circulation,” the health agency said in a weekly report. “Contact sports are by nature activities during which the risk of transmission is high.”

The vast majority of clusters have appeared in football and rugby, with about a quarter in professional clubs and the rest in amateur, health authorities said.

Paris Saint-Germain, last season’s French football league winners, started this year’s competition without star forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe after at least seven of the first team’s players tested positive for Covid-19.

Sports-linked outbreaks are on the rise, with 52 reported clusters in the first half of September, up from 31 for the entire month of August and five in July.

Contamination can happen both during sports practice as well as club-related social events, making it impossible to determine the exact circumstances, health authorities said.

France on Thursday reported the most new daily Covid-19 cases since the end of the country’s nationwide lockdown in May, with Health Minister Olivier Veran saying the virus “is again very active” in the country.

The highest incidence has been among people in the 15-to-44 age bracket, with cases per 100,000 people two-thirds higher than in the general population, weekly government data show.