Fans at 2022 World Cup in Qatar at risk of 'camel flu' infection: Report

Published on Nov 26, 2022 08:10 PM IST

Nearly 1.2 million people from around the world will be visiting Qatar to watch the quadrennial football event, which is one of the biggest international events since the COVID-19 pandemic.

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: Argentina fans ahead of the match in Doha, Qatar. (REUTERS)
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: Argentina fans ahead of the match in Doha, Qatar. (REUTERS)
By | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh

Experts backed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) have warned that the FIFA World Cup – which attracts a major global population – may also attract several infections like coronavirus, monkeypox, and a deadlier member of the Covid gang called ‘camel flu’ or Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

According to a study published in the journal New Microbes and New Infections, scientists found that while football fans from around the world are flocking to witness the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the mass gathering “unavoidably poses potential infectious disease risks” for the players, the fans, the locals as well as the countries of origin of the team.

Other diseases fans were at risk of catching, according to the study, included vector-borne diseases like cutaneous leishmaniasis, malaria, dengue, rabies, measles, hepatitis A and B and travellers' diarrhoea.

Recently, the WHO identified MERS as one of the viruses that had the potential to cause a pandemic in the future.

Nearly 1.2 million people from around the world will be visiting Qatar to watch the quadrennial football event, which is one of the biggest international events since the COVID-19 pandemic. This is to add to the Gulf nation's own population of 2.8 million.

The study states that while Qatar had made its health sector ready for such occurrence, continued surveillance and studies on the transmission of infections was important. “To mitigate the afore-mentioned risks, visitors to the tournament should be up to date with their routine vaccinations and observe the rules for safe consumption of food and drinks,” it said.

World Cup fans travelling to Qatar have also been advised to avoid touching camels, known to be the origin of the deadly infection.

MERS was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, which borders Qatar, and has since caused 2,600 cases with 935 associated deaths in 27 different countries, according to an article in UK-based science website IFLScience.

While most MERS infections are said to be asymptomatic or cause mild symptoms like fever, shortness of breath, and cough, severe infections may happen to people with comorbidities.

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