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Qatar says World Cup fans do not need Covid vaccination
Sep 30, 2022, 7:30:00 AM

Qatar says World Cup fans do not need Covid vaccination

Coronavirus vaccinations will not be mandatory for the million-plus fans going to the World Cup in Qatar this year, the Gulf state said on Thursday.

But players and match officials may be forced into a secure “bio-bubble” if Covid-19 cases take off again, with the threat of expulsion from the tournament for those who breach the secure environment, the health ministry said.

The 29-day tournament will be the first major global sporting event with fans since the eruption in December 2019 of the Covid pandemic, which has since killed more than six million people.

Qatari organisers, who have predicted that more than one million people will pack Doha for the matches, and football’s governing body, FIFA, have said they want the event to be a sign the world is getting over the devastating pandemic.

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But Qatar’s health ministry warned in its World Cup guidelines that special measures would be ordered “in the event of a worsening pandemic situation in the country”, such as the emergence of a threatening new variant.

With Covid-19 currently considered under control, “there will be no vaccination requirement for participants and visiting spectators,” the ministry said.

All visitors aged six and over must present a negative result from a PCR test taken within 48 hours before their departure or from a rapid antigen test taken in the 24 hours before arriving, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said.

Results of the rapid antigen tests will only be accepted if they are from official medical centres and not self-administered. No further tests will be required in Qatar if visitors do not develop symptoms of Covid-19.

Visitors aged 18 and above will also be required to download a government-run contact tracing phone application called Ehteraz.

Coronavirus vaccinations will not be mandatory for the million-plus fans going to the World Cup in Qatar this year, the Gulf state said on Thursday.” the statement added.

Fans will have to wear masks on public transport but authorities are only recommending the use of masks at the eight stadiums in the Doha region where matches will be played.

Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 while in Qatar will be required to isolate in accordance with Ministry of Public Health guidelines,” the statement said.

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Words: Abhishek Nanwani

Image: PA