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Nearly 2,000 COVID-19 cases in Scotland linked to people who gathered to watch soccer

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Nearly 2,000 people who live in Scotland tested positive for COVID-19 after gathering to watch football, or soccer, this month. Many of the cases are people who traveled outside of the country to watch games. 

Public Health Scotland said it analyzed COVID-19 test results between June 11 and 28, the start of Euro 2020, the European football championship. They contact traced cases and tagged people who either attended a match in London or went to a pub or house to watch a match. 

Nearly 1,470 cases were people between 20 and 39 years old and 90% of the cases were men, according to a Public Health Scotland report.

Nearly two-thirds of cases, or 1,294 people, reported traveling to London for a EURO 2020 related event. That includes 397 people who attended a June 18 Scotland versus England match. 

Tens of thousands of Scotland fans are believed to have traveled to London for that match – even though Scotland was only allocated 2,600 tickets due to COVID-19 restrictions, BBC News reports.

Fans were warned to only travel to London if they had a ticket, but many gathered around the city to watch the match. Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon denied accusations the government was lenient on football fans while Scotland was in the Euro 2020 tournament.

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Scotland fans are seen in London's Leicester Square before the Euro 2020 match between England and Scotland. Dave Rushen / SOPA Images via AP

"We haven't taken a softly, softly approach," she said during a press conference on Tuesday, according to BBC News. "We were very explicit in saying to fans who didn't have a ticket for Wembley not to travel."

"We can't physically stop every person traveling and significant numbers of people did travel," she said.

When crowds of fans gathered in London's Leicester Square, police began moving them out after halftime, BBC News reports.

Michael MacLean told BBC Radio Scotland's "Drivetime" he was there. "It was an amazing experience, but I am quite gutted I got COVID because that has affected me, affected my work, it has affected my friends," he said. 

While contact tracing cannot tell if a fan caught COVID-19 while gathering to watch a game, it can be used determine who should now isolate to prevent further spread of the virus.

Of the 32,539 cases in Scotland reported between June 11 and 28, 6% of the cases where people who gathered to watch a game of football – whether at a stadium or elsewhere. 

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