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This soccer team got infected with omicron. Only one person traveled to South Africa

What to know about the omicron variant spread so far

A man wearing a face mask walks outside the SL Benfica stadium in Lisbon.
A man wearing a face mask walks outside the SL Benfica stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. Portuguese health authorities on Monday identified 13 cases of omicron, the new coronavirus variant spreading fast globally, among members of the Lisbon-based Belenenses SAD soccer club, and were investigating possible local transmission of the virus outside of southern Africa.
Ana Brigida, Associated Press

The soccer club Belenenses had 13 cases of the omicron variant after one player traveled to South Africa, Portugal officials said Monday.

Did a soccer team get omicron?

Per The New York Times, Portugal’s national health institute said 13 soccer players were in isolation after a recent outbreak of COVID-19 among the team.

  • Officials confirmed that the players tested positive for the omicron variant, per Eurosport.
  • Officials said one of the players had recently visited South Africa, where the omicron variant of the virus was recently identified.

Did the players have omicron symptoms?

A Belenenses club spokesperson said that there were no serious symptoms reported, per Eurosport.

  • “Two or three players and two or three staff have symptoms, but nothing too serious, the rest are asymptomatic. Everyone is waiting to repeat the tests, as soon as the health authority authorizes it,” the spokesman said.

Why this matters

Belenenses’ infection is a first look at how the omicron variant can spread throughout a group of people. Experts have been wondering about the contagiousness of the new variant and what symptoms it might cause. It appears the variant spread quickly throughout the Portuguese team, but only produced mild symptoms.

Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chairwoman of the South African Medical Association who first sounded the alarm on the new variant, told BBC “Sunday” that she has mostly seen mild symptoms among infected patients.

  • “What we are seeing clinically in South Africa — and remember I’m at the epicenter of this where I’m practicing — is extremely mild, for us (these are) mild cases. We haven’t admitted anyone, I’ve spoken to other colleagues of mine and they give the same picture.”