Football fans fume over being forced to quarantine

Football fans fume over being forced to quarantine

‘Two jabs AND a negative test… but still in isolation’: Chelsea and Man City fans fume over being forced to quarantine – as NHS tells passengers on SEVENTH plane back from Portugal they must now isolate at home

  • British football fans are having to self-isolate back in UK after Saturday’s Champions League final in Porto
  • Some are being forced to quarantine despite testing negative since returning home and having both jabs
  • Passengers on a total of seven planes have so far been told to isolate – with the seventh flight revealed today 
  • Supporters who travelled on 9am Ryanair flight from Porto to Manchester on Sunday have been contacted

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. 

British football fans now having to self-isolate back in the UK after the Champions League final in Portugal have told of their ‘frustration’, with some forced to quarantine despite testing negative since returning home and having received both Covid-19 jabs.

Hundreds of Manchester City and Chelsea fans who travelled to Porto and back for the football match last weekend have been ordered to self-isolate for ten days – as the country is axed from the UK’s travel ‘green list’ over fears of the spread of the new Nepal variant. 

Passengers on a total of seven planes have so far been told to isolate – with the seventh revealed today after a positive Covid test was detected on an easyJet flight to Manchester. 

Fans who travelled on the 9am Ryanair flight from Porto to Manchester on Sunday are among those who 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 boards 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 Wednesday 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, but it is unclear how many supporters have tested positive so far – with the Department for Health refusing to confirm the figure. 

Recruitment firm boss Alex Naylor said he was contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to self-isolate for ten days – despite having a negative test after he arrived back in Manchester. 

The latest alert came today from Test and Trace and is the seventh plane to have been carrying an unknown number of people with the virus. 

Mr Naylor, who runs his own recruitment firm, pointed the finger of blame at UEFA for insisting on staging the finals in Porto rather than at a UK ground. 

He said: ‘This is all down to UEFA. They could have easily held the final at the UK ground, but they made 12,000 people travel and be put at risk. I really feel they should be held accountable and offer some form of compensation. Even though we lost the final I had a great time, but this has soured it even further.

‘I’ve have spent £330 on PCR tests and got my latest back yesterday which showed I was negative. That was on top of the £450 for my ticket. I then get a text from track and trace telling me someone on the flight was positive and I have to self-isolate. I do not have the virus, yet I have to stay home for ten days.’

Mr Naylor, a season ticket holder at the Etihad Stadium, said he flew back from Porto on an easyJet flight EZY 3524 to Manchester Airport.

He said all the seats on the Sunday afternoon flight were filled by City supporters, many of them downcast after losing to Chelsea 1-0 in the final. ‘Everyone wore a mask and it was the same in the airport,’ he said.

‘We stuck by all the rules and now I have to stay at home. Fortunately, I can work from home but I can’t leave the house for 10 days. My wife is pregnant, and it is inconvenient that I can’t help her outside the house.’

Mr Naylor, from Wilmslow in Cheshire, said he had a PCR test before he flew to Portugal and a test two days after landing. ‘I am negative but still have to self-isolate. It just does not make any sense,’ he said.

All fans returning had to complete a locator form which allowed Test and Trace to contact them via a text. Many had travelled to Porto on package trips arranged by the clubs. 

Dom Farrell, a sports journalist for Stats Perform, travelled to Porto for work and received a notification from NHS Test and Trace four days after flying home, telling him he needed to self-isolate for seven days.

He said a colleague on the same flight had received the same notification, leading him to believe that others onboard had too.

Mr Farrell said it was unnecessary for the match to take place abroad when two English clubs were competing.

He said: ‘If I’m being entirely honest, it shouldn’t have happened. And I’m not saying that because I have to self-isolate. It just seems silly it wasn’t happening in the UK.’

Wembley Stadium in North West London was considered as an alternative venue for the fixture, but the UK Government could not accommodate the request to allow quarantine exemptions for thousands of sponsors, VIPs, and broadcasters.

Mr Farrell said: ‘City and Chelsea played five Champions League home games apiece this season to get to that game. I don’t see why they couldn’t have played the sixth in this country without all the dignitaries there.

‘I’m all right – I can put my tests through expenses at work, but there will be people who were on that flight who will have paid for a ticket, paid for all their tests, and will now maybe be losing a week of work.’

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. 

Andy Saunders, from St Albans, was told by his NHS Test and Trace app to self-isolate for 10 days after returning on a flight from Chelsea’s ‘appointed travel partner’ – a Tui flight, he said.

He said it was ‘frustrating’ because he has tested negative since returning home, and has received his first and second Covid vaccination jabs.

To travel for the match, he had to take a PCR test the Thursday before flying out, complete a passenger locator form at both ends and provide evidence of a test two days after returning.

He said: ‘The mask-wearing from Chelsea fans [on the flight] was very compliant, and everyone behaved themselves. I think that makes it even more frustrating.’

Mr Saunders added that it was an unnecessary risk to hold the game in Portugal. ‘It’s absolutely ludicrous that it was held in Porto,’ he said. 

Manchester City fan Alex Naylor (pictured) said he was contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to self-isolate for ten days – despite having a negative test after he arrived back in Manchester after attending the game in Porto


Andy Saunders, from St Albans, was told by his NHS Test and Trace app to self-isolate for 10 days after returning on a flight from Chelsea’s ‘appointed travel partner’ – a Tui flight, he said

‘I live 35 minutes from Wembley, to make me get on the plane and fly over and expose me to those risks, which have clearly manifested themselves, is ridiculous.’

However, he said he did not blame the clubs, adding: ‘It was purely a UK Government decision not to allow any kind of quarantine waiver for people coming in.’

Michael Gove in Covid alert after trip to Porto

Michael Gove had to abandon a No 10 meeting with Boris Johnson and devolved leaders yesterday when he was alerted by the NHS coronavirus app after attending the Champions League final in Portugal with his son.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was notified that he had come into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus in recent days.

It is believed it may have happened when he and his Chelsea-supporting son, 16, flew back to the UK after attending the match between the London side and Manchester City at the weekend.

Under a pilot scheme for workplaces including No 10, Mr Gove will be tested every day for a week rather than having to isolate at home for ten days.

More than 12,000 football fans travelled to Porto for the match on Saturday and supporters on several flights said they had since been contacted by the NHS Test and Trace app. 

He also said he did not regret going and called it a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’. ‘For a football fan, it’s the absolute pinnacle,’ he said.

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, June 1.’

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.’ 

And a Department of Health and Social Care spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We cannot comment on individual cases. The contact tracing service for people who are arriving in the UK has been carefully designed to protect lives and prevent transmission of Covid-19. We urge anyone who is contacted by Test and Trace to follow the government advice on self-isolation and tracing any further contacts.’

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.’ 


Dom Farrell, a sports journalist for Stats Perform, travelled to Porto for work and received a notification from NHS Test and Trace four days after flying home, telling him he needed to self-isolate for seven days

Chelsea fans seen drinking before the Champions League final at Porto in Portugal on Saturday evening

‘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 Test 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. 

Fans in Porto ahead of the Champions League Final between Manchester City and Chelsea in Portugal last Saturday

‘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 spokesman for Sportsbreaks 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. 

Hundreds of Chelsea fans have been ordered to self-isolate after returning from the Champions League final in Portugal

‘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’.  

 

A spokesman for Uefa said: ‘For the organisation of this season’s Uefa Champions League final in Porto, Uefa together with the national government, public health bodies and local authorities had put in place a specific operational and sanitary framework, as well as guidelines, in order for the fans to attend the event in the safest and most risk-free environment as far as possible.

‘In this context, the majority of the fans travelled on charter flights, stayed at the fan meeting points, went to the stadium and returned to the airport to fly back home immediately following the conclusion of the match.

‘All fans had to present a negative PCR test to travel to Portugal and to enter any Uefa-monitored area in the city of Porto. The wearing of masks and social distancing in the stadium was also mandatory.’ 

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