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‘Camel virus’ puts Qatar 2022 on alert; the numbers start to worry

Less than a week is left for the ball to start rolling in Doha, the main venue for the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Several teams have already landed in the emirate to settle in their camps and start preparing for what will be next week’s debut, with an eye on qualifying for the round of 16.

As the stars land in Qatar, thousands of fans have taken to the streets with flags, t-shirts and lots of color, something that is customary every time the orbital event approaches. But that same density of tourists has the organization on alert, which must ensure not only the safety of the spectator, but also public health.which is beginning to be threatened by the ‘camel virus’ or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Coronavirus.

A boy wears a Denmark jersey and plays with a camel in a popular tourist area in Souq Waqif, ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament – Photo: REUTERS

As the World Cup approaches, the numbers of this disease have been growing. So far, 28 cases have been registered at the championship venue, numbers that contrast with the couple of positive results that had been presented before the arrival of the fans.

The World Health Organization has requested that measures be taken by the Qatari government in order to avoid a wave of infections during the month of competitions. Being a virus that behaves in a similar way to covid-19, It is necessary to isolate the people who are infected.

The Ministry of Public Health of Qatar has a large network of hospitals available to visitors, added to the service provided by the organization of the World Cup in each of the stadiums and the fan-zones. Despite this, the Government of that country requests that visitors have travel insurance at their disposal to attend to any medical emergency.

Death risk

According to the WHO, this virus, which belongs to the coronavirus family, presents a 35% mortality rate among those who become infected. The disease was first detected in Saudi Arabia in September 2012 and from that date until last May the WHO reported a total of 2,587 cases and 891 deaths.

So far, the authorities in Qatar have reported seven deaths, the last of which was in May. The virus seems to be transmitted by drinking raw camel milk, however, when the person is already infected, they can quickly spread the virus through their saliva, just as it happened with covid-19.

A general view of the Al Thumama Stadium with a sculpture of the World Cup trophy is seen from the spectator entrance ahead of the World Cup soccer tournament in Doha, Qatar November 8, 2022. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
External view of the Al Thumama stadium, one of the venues for the 2022 Qatar World Cup – Photo: REUTERS

That is why Fifa and the organizing committee face a tough challenge to celebrate the World Cup without setbacks in terms of health and safety. The record ticket sales figures are also becoming a concern for a country with very little experience in this type of event.

According to Fifa data, the World Cup sold an astronomical number of 2.45 million tickets, with Qatar, the United States, England, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, France, Argentina, Brazil and Germany leading the ranking. of ticket sales by country of residence.

In the latest sales period alone, which ran from July 5 to August 16, in which fans were able to purchase tickets on a first-come, first-served basis via FIFA.com/tickets, a total of 520,532 tickets were sold.

The largest number of tickets allocated corresponded to group stage matches such as Cameroon-Brazil, Brazil-Serbia, Portugal-Uruguay, Costa Rica-Germany and Australia-Denmark. Fans living in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, England, Argentina, Brazil, Wales and Australia were the ones with the highest number of entries.

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