RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — There were 179 known COVID-19 cases related to the Copa America, Brazil’s health ministry said on Monday, up 13 from its previous update 17 days ago.
The ministry did not say how seriously the disease evolved in any of the infected.
The figure also did not contemplate possible contagion among a few thousand guests who watched Lionel Messi’s Argentina beat Brazil 1-0 on Saturday in the final at Maracana Stadium. The final was the only match in the tournament to have spectators in the stands.
“The very low contagion certifies that Copa America took place in Brazil with safety and didn’t cause an increase in COVID-19 numbers,” the health ministry said in a statement.
Health experts said before the tournament that a new surge of the virus was expected in Brazil by the end of June, but that did not materialize.
About 26% of Brazil’s population has been partly vaccinated against the virus, says Our World in Data, an online research site. That figure was nearing 14% when the tournament kicked off.
There were few registers of large crowds in bars and restaurants for Copa America matches in Brazil, even during Saturday night’s final against Argentina.
The health ministry said 28,772 tests were undertaken on people related to the tournament from June 11 to July 10, and 0.6% of the results came back positive. When the South American championship began, that figure was at around 1%.
Positive cases included 36 players or staffers of national teams, 137 outsourced workers, and six related to CONMEBOL. Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru and Chile confirmed cases in their squad. No matches were suspended or delayed due to contagion.
CONMEBOL worked with the health ministry to track cases. More than 533,000 known people have died due to the coronavirus.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a staunch critic of social distancing policies and an advocate for his nation hosting the tournament, did not show up for any Copa America matches.
The competition was originally organized by Colombia and Argentina, but they were pulled after political issues and a virus surge, respectively. Brazil was given hosting duty two weeks before the scheduled opening match.
When Brazil was assigned as host at the beginning of June, its seven-day average of virus deaths was at nearly 1,900 a day. Now it is at around 1,300 and trending downward.
Brazilians often ignore Copa America matches, which could have helped to limit the spread of the disease. But Argentina’s title, its first in 28 years, triggered massive celebrations on the streets of Buenos Aires — bringing new risks to a country where nearly 100,000 people have died of the disease.
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