Euros are impacting on number of men catching Covid in Herts, says public health chief

Football field

Football field - Credit: Robert Anderson from Pixabay

Director of public health Jim McManus is urging football fans in Hertfordshire not to let their guard down when watching the ‘Euros’, as statistics show more men have been catching Covid since the start of the tournament. 

Latest data shows that in the last few days – since the start of the football tournament – men have been more likely to pick up the virus in the county than women. 

And director of public health Mr McManus says there is a link between the trend and the Euros – not just in Hertfordshire, but elsewhere in the country too. 

Speaking at a media briefing on Thursday (June 24), he urged those watching the matches to remember to take Covid precautions – such as ensuring good ventilation. 

“There definitely does seen to have been transmission from within households and within groups socialising at football, where they have had fairly poor ventilation,” he said. 

“If they had just opened a window and slightly kept a distance, they could have probably not got infected. 

“So, I think that just underlines the need for people just to enjoy the football, but just be a wee bit cautious. And if you keep doing that, then you will be fine.” 

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Mr McManus stresses there are plenty of people who have not been infected – where ventilation has been better. 

But he says there are people who were “infected because they got excited about their club and that’s understandable and it's easy to let your guard down”. 

“But a few simple precautions – get vaccine, ventilate the room – and you will be fine” he says. 

Overall Mr McManus warns that the Covid situation in the county is “still quite volatile” – with infection rates doubling every nine to 18 days. 

But, he says, the increase in cases is not translating into cases in the more vulnerable over-60s or leading to patients needing hospital treatment – with very few cases in care homes. 

Nevertheless, says Mr McManus, hospitals remain busy – caring for non-Covid patients and with 143 patients rehabilitating from Covid – with no spare capacity. 

And he warned: “There is still enough people not vaccinated to cause a serious wave of illness and hospitalisation.” 

Cases are concentrated, and rising, amongst those in the 17-24 age group – where there are still high numbers who have not yet been vaccinated and where there is said to have been quite a lot of social contact. 

But, says Mr McManus, it is already clear that quite high numbers of young people want to be vaccinated – wanting to be able to socialise into the autumn and Christmas. 

“That’s a worrying sign about the significant rise in young people – but equally a welcome sign that they want to get the vaccine,” he said. 

Across the county 771,000 people had a first dose of the vaccine – and 556,000 have had both, which Mr McManus welcomes as “really good”. 

And he says: “The virus hasn’t gone away. And it's quite clear our residents are doing what our residents usually do – which is trying to do the right thing about the virus and they are queuing up to get vaccinated.” 

The dominant variant in the county is the Delta variant. And Mr McManus says the Delta plus variant – which has an additional mutation – “doesn’t seem to be getting much of a foothold’ in Herts”.