Portuguese football club is hit with 13 cases of Omicron Covid after player returned from South Africa, forcing them to field nine-man team for 7-0 thrashing by Benfica
- Belenenses played against Benfica on Saturday with just nine men because the rest of the team were in isolation with suspected Covid
- Just seven players returned after halftime before one of them went down injured
- Game was abandoned after 47 minutes with Benfica leading 7-0, as both teams blamed league bosses and health officials for refusing to postpone the fixture
- 13 cases of Omicron Covid variant have now been confirmed at Belenenses
Portugal has confirmed 13 cases of the Omicron Covid super-variant, all of them linked to a football team whose players had been away on international duty.
The infections were confirmed at Lisbon club Belenenses on Monday, coming after defender Cafu Phete returned from playing with the South African national team and tested positive for the virus.
Belenenses took to the field on Saturday for a game against Benfica with just nine players because the rest were in isolation. Only seven returned to the field after half-time, before one of them went down injured.
Belenenses took to the field against Benfica on Saturday with just nine men because the rest were in isolation with suspected Covid
The match was abandoned just two minutes into the second period, with Benfica leading 7-0. Both teams blamed Portuguese health officials and league bosses for allowing the match to go ahead.
Speaking on Monday, a Belenenses spokesman said most of the club is now isolating pending the results of Covid tests.
‘We’re all in isolation except for the youth team that didn’t play on Saturday, 44 people are in isolation at home,’ the spokesman said from isolation.
‘Two or three players and two or three staff have symptoms, but nothing too serious, the rest are asymptomatic. Everyone is waiting to repeat the tests, as soon as the health authority authorises it,’ he added.
The game was abandoned after 47 minutes with Benfica leading 7-0 because only seven players returned after half-time, one of whom went down injured
Portugal’s health general director, Graca Freitas, told the local TSF radio that Benfica’s players will also be tested for the virus.
Portugal joins a rapidly expanding list of countries that have now confirmed cases of Omicron – dubbed a ‘variant of concern’ by the WHO.
It is the most-mutated form of Covid ever discovered, including mutations that are thought to make it much more contagious even among the vaccinated.
But big questions remain over the mutant, including whether it causes more-serious forms of the disease.
The South African doctor who first reported uncovered the variant has said that all of her patients had mild symptoms and none needed hospital treatment.
Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s top virologist, has said it will be at least two weeks before a reliable picture of the variant’s effects become clear.
13 cases of the Omicron Covid variant have now been confirmed at Belenenses, with 44 players and staff currently in isolation