Swedish health authorities warn of coronavirus clusters in organised sport

People taking part in team sports should be particularly careful in following coronavirus recommendations, Sweden's Public Health Agency said, after revealing that several clusters of the virus had been linked to sport.

Swedish health authorities warn of coronavirus clusters in organised sport
Clusters have been linked to both ice hockey and football teams, despite measures such as near-empty stadiums. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall / TT

“Over the last few weeks, infectious disease control units across the country have discovered several outbreaks of Covid-19 within team sports such as ice hockey and football,” the Public Health Agency said in a statement.

“The infection has first spread within one team, and also affected coaches and other staff who are not directly involved in playing. Outbreaks of Covid-19 have happened at both the elite and amateur level, and how the infection is spread has not been completely mapped. It is hard to know for sure if the spread happened in competition situations or in changing rooms or other related activities. When the infection comes into a team it is likely that others in the team may be infected, just as there is an increased risk of spread within families and at workplaces.”

The agency reiterated that sport plays an important role in public health and there was no announcement of plans for tighter restrictions on sports, but instead a reminder to follow the recommendations currently in place.

This comes as Sweden as a whole reported an increase in daily new cases, after they had been at a low level for weeks.

Under current guidelines, matches, games, and competitions are allowed at all levels but organisers must ensure other measures to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus. This includes the following recommendations:

  • Anyone with cold or flu symptoms must not attend
  • Changing should take place at home and not in shared changing rooms if possible
  • Participants should not share towels, water bottles, mouth guards or other items that may spread the virus
  • Equipment used by several people, such as gym machines, should be cleaned after each person's use
  • No more than 50 people in attendance at public events

You can read the Public Health Agency's guidance for sports organisers here.

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