Fears Twickenham rugby match may have been omicron superspreader event

More than 80,000 rugby fans who attended the England versus South Africa game at Twickenham last weekend are being urged to come forward for testing if they have Covid symptoms in a bid to stamp out the new omicron variant before it gets a grip on the British population.

The game operated a strict Covid pass system meaning that spectators had to show evidence of double vaccination and a negative lateral flow test but the new variant is thought to be highly contagious and may be able to evade vaccines.

On Saturday, Munira Wilson, the MP for the area who is also the Liberal Democrats health spokesperson, said: “While I’m confident the RFU will have had the necessary protocols in place to prevent any potential spread, this serves as a reminder that we all must remain vigilant in the fight against this virus.

‘Ministers must spring into action’

“Those who had flown in for the match and anyone who was in and around the stadium that day who has concerns should follow UK Health Security Agency advice in coming forward and getting tested.

“More broadly, the emergence of this new variant stresses the need to donate vaccines through the Covax programme. Ministers must spring into action and recognise no one is safe from Covid until we all are safe.”

On Saturday, Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, announced that two people carrying the variant had been identified in the UK – one in Chelmsford, Essex, the other in Nottingham.

There were no confirmed cases of the omicron variant in the south-west London area around Twickenham at the time of writing, but Covid cases have climbed sharply in the area over the past week.

Cases for London as a whole are rising and that is being driven by a recent surge in cases in Richmond-on-Thames, the leafy London suburb which neighbours Twickenham.

Cases have been climbing there since early November but noticeably stepped up a gear after last week’s rugby match.

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