Thirteen players and staff from a Lisbon premier league football team have tested positive for the Omicron variant of coronavirus, Portuguese health officials said on Monday.
The Belenenses SAD team members had already been in confinement for days after testing positive for the virus last week. Thibang 'Cafu' Phete, the team’s defender, had recently traveled to South Africa.
Graca Freitas, head of Portugal’s health services, said their cases were all “evolving favorably” and the majority of those infected, if not everyone, had already been vaccinated.
Speaking to local radio station TSF, she said that since it is a new variant, authorities will focus on aggressive contact tracing, isolating and testing.
Members of the Benfica football team, which played an undermanned Belenenses SAD on Saturday, would also be tested, Freitas said.
Benfica's match against the coronavirus-stricken Belenenses SAD was decried by many for not being canceled. The team had nine players and no substitutes.
Long-lasting peace in region not possible without resolving Kashmir issue: FM
Up against Benfica’s 11 players, the game was called off just after halftime with a score of 7-0 after three Belenensesplayers got injured.
Meanwhile, Portugal’s health authorities are also sequencing the viruses from two passengers who tested positive for coronavirus after flying in from Maputo, Mozambique.
Portugal’s health institute INSA, which is closely monitoring the virus, said in a statement that “there is still no scientific data to support [the Omicron variant’s] greater transmissibility or its ability to reduce the effectiveness of current vaccines.”
The World Health Organization, which has declared the new strain a variant of concern, is coordinating with researchers around the world to better understand Omicron, including assessments of transmissibility, severity of infection (including symptoms), performance of vaccines and diagnostic tests, and effectiveness of treatments.