Bio-secure bubbles deemed safe for football matches
In a recent study, matches played in football stadiums in strict adherence to bio-secure bubble protocol have been proven to be safe and have not contributed to the spread of COVID-19.
With the gradual return of spectators to the stadium and recent sporting events in 2020 and 2021, Qatar has been able to successfully host safe and infection-free tournaments, marking an important milestone for the country as they prepare for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
The study ‘Resumption of professional football league with spectators during the COVID-19 pandemic: The implementation of Bio-secure bubble protocol,’ has found out that during the ongoing pandemic, Qatar has successfully become one of the first countries to implement an extensive Bio-secure bubble system and has been able to successfully hold matches with spectators that have not aided to the spread of the virus, given the protocol has been implemented.
“We conducted a descriptive cohort study involving football players, referees, match officials, local organizing committee members, hotel and security staff working in close coordination, and over 10,000 spectators from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (East) and the final match. The study covered almost four weeks of the event (November 19 to December 19, 2020) under a robust bio-secure bubble protocol,” says the study published in the latest issue of Qatar Medical Journal.
The study has monitored and analyzed positive RT-PCR results and clinical symptoms of COVID-19 monitoring among participants, and rapid antigen testing for fan attendance to examine their safe return to the stadiums.
The current vaccination programs in the country aim to further bring a successful FIFA World Cup 2022 home with Qatar strategizing, preparing, and successfully implementing experiences to ensure everyone's safety.
From November 2020 to April 2021, Qatar has successfully hosted the AFC Champions League West and East Zone matches, including the final and the Amir cup Final in December 2020. In February 2021, it concluded with hosting the FIFA Club World Cup, where stadiums were allowed 30 percent spectator capacity.
The study has highlighted that a total of 12,250 RT-PCR tests involving 3,158 individuals in the bio-secure bubble were done over one month for all the AFC (East) matches, including the final match. Overall, 44 matches involving 16 teams were played.
During the championship, only five individuals (three LOC members and two match officials) returned positive for COVID-19 infections. Four individuals, including one person from outside the bio-secure bubble, had reactive results. The symptoms seen were mild or asymptomatic, with ho hospitalizations required.
Other highights from the report included 0.15% positivity rate furing the AFC (east Champions League). 10, 320 rapid antigen tests were conducted for the final match and only one came back positive for COVID-10
With the Qatar Worldcup a 100 days away, these measures have been taken by the government to ensure that the citizens and the fans are able to have a smooth experience, without worrying about the ongoing health issues. The country being able to host infection free tournaments further indicates that the health department has been making sure they are fully capable of handling the situation in any circumstances.
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