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Portugal probes local transmission of omicron at soccer team

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Portuguese health authorities on Monday identified 13 cases of the omicron coronavirus variant among members of a professional soccer club and were investigating whether it …
Portuguese health authorities on Monday identified 13 cases of the omicron coronavirus variant among members of a professional soccer club and were investigating whether it was one of the first reported cases of local transmission of the virus outside of southern Africa. The Ricardo Jorge National Health Institute said that one of those who tested positive was a player from the Lisbon-based Belenenses SAD soccer club who had recently traveled to South Africa, where the omicron variant was first identified. The others, including players and other members of the club’s staff, hadn’t reportedly traveled to southern Africa, where most of the cases have been recorded so far. The institute said that those who had been in contact with the positive cases were in isolation regardless of their vaccination status. Players of Lisbon’s biggest team, Benfica, which played Belenenses SAD on Saturday, were also being tested for the virus. “Since this is a new variant, we have to tighten the controls,” Portugal’s health general director, Graça Freitas told the local TSF radio. Freitas said that some of the infected had no symptoms and that all were improving. “Despite being vaccinated, we know that the vaccine is not 100% effective,” she told SIC Noticias news channel. Health authorities, the clubs and Portugal’s Primeira Liga were all facing questions for allowing the game to go ahead even when the Belenenses SAD had already reduced its squad to nine players — two fewer than the game calls for — because of the coronavirus outbreak.

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