United Kingdom

Omicron variant: Twickenham rugby match may have been a COVID super spreader event

On November 20 at Twickenham, 80,000 rugby fans gathered in the stands to watch England facing off South Africa for the Autumn Nations Series. Now a week later, local MP Munira Wilson (Lib-Dem) has asked all attendees to take a Covid test as part of the search for the Omicron super-variant.

To enter the stadium, all ticket-holders had to show evidence of double vaccination, a negative lateral flow test in the last 48 hours or a previous infection in the past 180 days, but this would not have stopped the Omicron variant from spreading.

MP Wilson said in a statement: “While I’m confident the Rugby Football Union (RFU) will have had the necessary protocols in place to prevent any potential spread, this serves as a reminder that we all must remain vigilant in the fight against this virus.

“Those who had flown in for the match and anyone who was in and around the stadium that day who has concerns should follow UKHSA advice in coming forward and getting tested.

“More broadly, the emergence of this new variant stresses the need to donate vaccines through the COVAX programme. Ministers must spring into action and recognise no one is safe from Covid until we all are safe.”

South Africa has been officially put on the British red list along with Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia following the surge of the Omicron variant.

The South African government has described the travel restrictions as “unjustified.”

The British Prime Minister expressed his concerns regarding the new variant.

Boris Johnson said during a press conference: “Our scientists are learning more hour by hour.

READ MORE: Omicron variant: Israel bans entry to all foreign travellers

Microbiology Professor Florian Krammer also claims the variant was “flying under the radar” in various countries until Botswana and South Africa detected it and sounded the alarm.

He added: “The mutations in Omicron which seem to wipe out the majority of neutralising antibody epitopes are very worrisome.

“Combined with the apparent fitness of the virus, this could be a problem. There is now a lot to do to get a better idea of the risk this virus variant poses.”


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