Covid outbreak on SIX planes back from Portugal: Hundreds of Man City and Chelsea fans on five chartered flights and one Ryanair jet are told to self-isolate for 10 days after landing in Britain – as nation is AXED from UK’s ‘green list’ over variant scare
- Six planes of British football fans returning from Champions League final in Portugal told to self-isolate
- Fans from three Chelsea planes, two Manchester City planes and a Ryanair flight to Manchester are affected
- Portugal to be removed from the ‘green list’ and dropped o ‘amber list’ amid concerns about rising infections
- It’s unclear how many positive cases have been reported among more than 12,000 football fans who travelled
PUBLISHED: 08:31, 3 June 2021 | UPDATED: 19:24, 3 June 2021
Manchester City and Chelsea fans who have Covid most likely caught it in UK – but more may have been infected in Portugal
The Man City and Chelsea fans who have already tested positive for coronavirus and triggered contact tracing likely had it before they flew to Portugal because of how quickly contacts have been warned to self-isolate.
Flights put on by both teams departed the UK for Porto on the day of the game, last Saturday, May 29, and came back immediately after. Some fans travelled independently, including on a Ryanair flight which has been affected.
There were 6,000 tickets allocated to both teams for travelling fans with the Portugese government saying they must all travel as part of the group and stay in a ‘match bubble’ on the day before getting tested for Covid and flying home straight after the match.
Fans yesterday, June 2, posted messages on a fan forum saying they had been sent messages by NHS Test & Trace telling them to self-isolate because they had been close to someone who tested positive for the virus.
WERE THEY TESTED?
All passengers had to take a PCR Covid test within three days before they flew. Anyone with a positive result or no result should not have been allowed to travel.
The same test result was allowed to be used for their return journey, because it was shorter than three days, and Government rules say they should do swab tests on day 2 (May 31 or June 1) and day 8 (June 6) after arriving home. It is unknown how well this is enforced.
HOW DID PEOPLE TEST POSITIVE SO QUICKLY?
People were tested before departure and not allowed to go if they had a negative result so, if the system worked, any positive tests should have come after the trip – although tests aren’t perfect and up to half may get an incorrect result, depending on the test type.
It generally takes a day to get an NHS test result back – longer if it’s a home test, which most private travel test providers are – and then contact tracing takes place afterwards, so it’s unlikely the process would be fast enough for the positive tests that led to the current isolation to come any later than Tuesday, June 1.
This suggests the positives were among people who got tested on the day they got back or took a test before they left without getting the result. The day 2 return tests are postal tests so are unlikely to have been done in time.
IS IT LIKELY THEY CAUGHT THE VIRUS IN PORTUGAL?
It’s difficult to know when people caught coronavirus but the gathering of thousands of people at the game in Portugal makes it a likely spreading event.
However, it generally takes four to five days for the virus to ‘incubate’ in someone before they are fully infected and start to show symptoms, if they are symptomatic.
During this incubation period people might be less likely to test positive because they don’t have much of the virus in their body.
It’s possible that:
A) Someone caught the virus shortly before taking their pre-departure test, tested negative because they were in the incubation period, went to Portugal without knowing they had it, then tested positive afterwards.
B) Someone caught the virus in Portugal and managed to test positive just one or two days later.
C) Someone caught the virus in Britain after taking their test but before departing, then got tested when they got home.
D) Someone who was positive before flying got an incorrect negative test result. This generally happens to between three and five out of 10 people who are tested once and are not physically ill at the time.
Because of the number of people who went and the fact some were infected, is likely that some fans who did catch the virus while in Portugal will start to test positive in the coming days.
WILL THEY HAVE CAUGHT A NEW VARIANT?
The dominant variant in Portugal is the Kent/England variant B117, which makes up 87 per cent of cases there, according to the Portugese department of health, so it’s likely that anyone infected there would catch this one.
Although not dominant any more in the UK, pushed out by the Indian variant, the Kent strain is well understood and vaccines protect well against it.
The country also has the South AfricaN B1351 and Brazilian P1 strains, which worry health officials, but these are present in small numbers in the UK, too. Portugal isn’t known to have any dangerous new variants that haven’t been found in Britain already.
A coronavirus variant that is being linked to Nepal has also been recorded in Portugal.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Any fans who have been in close contact with someone who later tested positive will be contacted by NHS Test & Trace and told to isolate for 10 days after the contact happened.
This can come by phone call, email, text or notification through the NHS app if both people have it and the positive tester logs their result online.
Other people from the UK can be contacted by Test & Trace if they were in Portugal when the contact happened, but people living in Portugal will likely be outside of the programme’s scope.
The self-isolation period works in the same way as it does if someone is exposed in the UK, and it applies even to fully vaccinated people or those who have already had the virus. It is generally not policed and relies on people complying in good faith.
Hundreds of Manchester City and Chelsea fans who travelled to Portugal and back for the Champions League final last weekend have been ordered to self-isolate for 10 days – as the country is axed from the UK’s Green List over fears of the spread of the new Nepal Covid variant.
Supporters who travelled on the 9am Ryanair flight from Porto to Manchester on Sunday have been contacted by the NHS’s Test and Trace app and told to self-isolate alongside three chartered flights of Chelsea fans who landed in London and two chartered planeloads of Manchester City fans who landed in Manchester.
Supporters took to fan message board to reveal they were contacted and told to self-isolate through the app, while others said they received an email or phone call. Fans began reporting the messages from yesterday evening – three days after landing back in the UK.
The news has led to fears that all 12,000 supporters who travelled from the UK to Portugal and back could be affected and told to isolate. It is unclear how many supporters have tested positive so far.
The source of a potential outbreak has yet to be identified although it is thought that the fans who have tested positive and triggered contact tracing likely had it before they flew to Portugal because of how quickly others have been told to self-isolate.
Sportsbreaks operated 10 official day flights for Chelsea with a combined capacity of 2,153 seats. Chelsea fans were offered a £199 travel package through the club on top of the cost of the match ticket.
The company said it was unaware of passengers returning positive Covid tests and staff who were on the flights had not yet been contacted by the NHS and asked to isolate.
A spokesman added: ‘All our staff have also returned negative results from the mandatory PCR tests which we had on Tuesday 1st June.’
A Chelsea spokesman said: ‘We are aware of reports and advise anyone contacted to follow the advice from NHS Test and Trace and Government guidelines.’
MailOnline has asked the Department of Health about the test and trace activities it is undertaking with passengers.
Meanwhile, Manchester City are understood to have not recorded any positive covid tests among players, their families or staff since their return from Portugal.
Both clubs organised flights for their supporters to travel to the match, though some flew commercially.
Celebrity fans including Noel and Liam Gallagher and Jeremy Clarkson also attended the final, as did Michael Gove and George Osborne.
Photos from the weekend showed fans coming together both before and after the final, with very little social distancing as they crammed into squares and near bars, with Chelsea fans celebrating wildly after their team triumphed.
Chelsea fans have gone online to share their experiences and concerns since returning to the UK on Sunday. One posted: ‘It seems someone who was on our return flight has tested positive.’
‘Anyone else been captured by NHS track and trace since getting back from Porto?’ one posted on Facebook. ‘Despite two vaccinations, a negative test and no symptoms I’ve got to self-isolate for 10 days …Deep Joy!’
And another Blues supporter, who was on a different flight, said: ‘My daughter myself got alerted via nhs app this morning. Self-isolate for 7 days.’
A fan on a third flight said he had also been contacted by the NHS tracing service.
Meanwhile, Manchester City supporters took to a fan forum to share their shock at receiving the messages from the track and trace app.
One wrote: ‘I was on (club) flight 5, I know 4 others on the same flight that have been contacted by Track & Trace.
‘I’ve had a text, email and call already. Have to book another Test (with NHS) and isolate until 23.59pm on 8th June.
‘Still not had results from Day 2 test and hoping eveything is negative so can get back to normal next week.’
Another said: ‘Had the message via the App yesterday saying isolate due to close contact. Still waiting for my 2 day test but isolating regardless.’
A spokesperson from Sportsbreaks.com said: ‘We are not aware of anyone returning a positive COVID test result that travelled on our official daytrips for Chelsea fans to Porto.
‘To date, none of our staff who were on each of the flights have been contacted to isolate. None of the airlines we used have contacted us to inform us that they have been advised that any passenger has tested positive.
‘All our staff have also returned negative results from the mandatory PCR tests which we had on Tuesday 1st June.’
More than 12,000 English fans visited Porto for the weekend to watch the match with others simply there to soak up the atmosphere in the bars and restaurants by the Douro River in north west Portugal.
Fans have expressed surprise at reports of positive covid tests because supporters were subjected to a strict testing regime before the match and on their return to the UK.
Testing included a PCR test within 72 hours before flying to Portugal, a PCR 72 hours before the match kicking off and a lateral flow test 48 hours before.
Afterwards, fans were also ordered to take a lateral flow test 72 hours before the return flight to London and a PCR test on day two after getting back. One possibility to explain the outbreak is results from day two testing coming back today.
The match was staged in Portugal after the original venue, the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul, had to give the game up following a second wave of coronavirus in Turkey.
Efforts to move the match to Wembley foundered after UEFA insisted 2,000 staff and VIPs must be accommodated and the UK government refused to waive quarantine requirements
Portugal’s government has kept bars and night clubs closed and still recommend people working from home but the country has now lost its place on the UK’s ‘green list’.
It comes as holidaymakers face a series of blows today as it was revealed that no countries will be added to the UK’s ‘green list’ today – while Portugal is to be removed.
In a brutal overhaul, MailOnline understands that the only major holiday destination in the lowest bracket is being axed – with sources suggesting the new strain identified in the country was a significant factor in the decision.
No countries are being added to the ‘green list’, dashing hopes that places such as Malta, Jamaica and Grenada could be added to the roster.
And more countries are being put on the ‘red list’ that means returning travellers must go into quarantine hotels.
They are thought to be Egypt, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Bahrain, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago and Afghanistan.
It comes amid alarm that a coronavirus variant linked to Nepal could pose a fresh threat to the escape from lockdown.
At least 20 cases of the strain, which combines mutations from the Indian and South African versions, have been spotted in the UK.
And a case has been identified in Portugal – which does far less genomic screening than Britain.
Transport Secretary Mr Shapps said there had been a rise in test positivity in Portugal, and also pointed to the danger that the coronavirus variant linked to Nepal could pose a fresh threat to the escape from lockdown.
‘There is a sort of Nepal mutation of the so-called Indian variant,’ he said. ‘We just don’t know the potential for that to be a vaccine defeating mutation.’+17
Hundreds of Chelsea fans have been ordered to self-isolate after returning from the Champions League final in Portugal amid fears holidaymakers faced a series of blows to their summer plans+17
Manchester football Fans seen drinking before the Champions League final in Portugal on Saturday evening. Some 6,000 Manchester city fans travelled to the country +17
Fans in Porto ahead of the Champions League Final between Manchester City and Chelsea in Portugal last Saturday+17
Shapps explains why Portugal has been moved to amber list