Portuguese football team Belenenses hit with 13 cases of Omicron variant after player returns from South Africa

Portuguese football team Belenenses hit with 13 cases of Omicron variant after player returns from South Africa
© AFP via Getty Images FBL-POR-LIGA-BELENENSES-BENFICA

A Portuguese football club has been hit with 13 cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus after a player recently returned from South Africa.

The new variant was found after Belenenses played a Primeira Liga match against Benfica on Saturday.

The game started with just nine Belenenses players on the pitch because the rest of their squad were isolating and only seven returned to the field after half-time. The match was abandoned two minutes into the second half with Benfica leading 7-0.

“We’re all in isolation except for the youth team that didn’t play on Saturday, 44 people are in isolation at home,” a club spokesman said on Monday.

“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 authorises it,” he added.

Portuguese football team Belenenses hit with 13 cases of Omicron variant after player returns from South Africa
© Provided by Evening Standard The nine players posed up for a team photo before kick off (AFP via Getty Images)

Belenenses defender Cafu Phete tested positive for Covid-19 after returning to Portugal last week from international duty in South Africa.

The presidents of Benfica and Belenenses told a news conference on Saturday they had no choice but to play the match or risk being punished for an “unjustified absence”.

They blamed the league and health authority DGS for not allowing the game to be postponed.

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