Portugal finds 13 Omicron cases at top-division football club



THIRTEEN cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant have been found among players of Portugal’s top-flight football club Belenenses SAD, according to initial results from the country’s national health institute (INSA).

One of the players has recently returned from South Africa, where the new strain was discovered last week, the institute said.

“Preliminary tests carried out at INSA, strongly suggest that all 13 cases associated with players of Belenenses SAD are linked to the variant of concern Omicron,” the institute said in a statement sent to Portuguese media.

Genome sequencing is being carried out for confirmation, INSA said, but added “the predictive value of the tests carried out is already very high.”

The club’s cluster was already big news in Portugal, since Belenenses had to play a first division game on Saturday night against Benfica with just nine players on the field, drawing international criticism. The game was eventually abandoned when more Belenenses players dropped out, with Benfica winning 7-0.

Benfica’s players will be tested as part of a wider intensification of vigilance, testing and isolation now that the new variant has been found in Portugal, the country’s Director-General for Health Graça Freitas told TSF radio. “We’ll have more proactive isolation and more intensive testing of contacts,” she said.

INSA also noted that tests carried out on 218 passengers who arrived in Lisbon from Mozambique on Saturday detected two cases of Covid-19. One was of the Delta variant and the other was not possible to identify, the institute said.

Portugal has now banned flights from Mozambique, it’s only commercial passenger link with the southern African countries targeted by a European Union flight ban.

At least 13 Omicron cases were found among 61 passengers who tested positive for COVID-19 on flights from South Africa to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said Sunday.

Meanwhile in Thailand the Public Health Ministry said this morning (Nov.30) that there were  4,306 Covid cases and 37 deaths over the past 24 hours taking the cumulative confirmed total since April 1 to 2,087,009, Amarin TV said.

Of the new batch of cases 4,054 emerged in the surveillance and healthcare systems, 121 were found through proactive search in communities, 123 fell sick in prisons and detention centres while eight overseas arrivals tested positive.

Another 6,407 patients were cured taking total recoveries since April 1 to 1,992,002 while 75,673 patients are still undergoing treatment.


Top: Players from Belenenses walk onto the pitch before their match against Benfica. Photo / AFP via Getty Images and published by Evening Standard

Home Page: The nine players posed up for a team photo before kick off. Photo: AFP via Getty Images published by Evening Standard

Also read: WHO says ‘never again’ as nations weigh pandemic treaty

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UK, Germany and Italy detect Omicron variant cases, Israel closes borders

Vaccine makers move quickly against new variant, testing already under way

Thailand closes borders to 8 African countries over Omicron variant

Scientists warn of new Botswana variant of Covid with ‘horrific’ number of mutations


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