Coronavirus news: death toll rises in Italy and Iran as outbreak could cause 2008-level economic damage – live updates | World news

The virus is beginning to have an effect on sporting events and organisations. Italian football authorities have insisted matches be played behind closed doors this weekend and the Ireland Italy clash in the Six Nations rugby has been postponed.

Bigger concerns, however, lie over the fate of this summer’s prestige tournaments, particularly the men’s European Football Championship in June and the Tokyo Olympics the month after.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday declared “business as usual” in their plans. However Christopher Dye, an epidemiologist at Oxford University who worked with the IOC during the Zika virus outbreak before the 2016 Rio Games, said that governing bodies will currently be contemplating their response to all possible scenarios, and who would be responsible should things go wrong.

“What the Japanese authorities and IOC are saying is that they fully intend to go ahead and that would be the right judgment at this stage”, Dye told the Guardian. “The end of July is a long way away. We are not even two months into the [outbreak] and a lot of things have already happened. We have seen it spread across China and decline almost everywhere in China and in some parts at a dramatic rate.

“Nobody knows what is going to happen by the summer but the sensible thing is to consider different scenarios. What the organisers will be asking is: what are the risks, the costs, the benefits and who will be responsible if something horrible happened?”

The European Championships are set to be held in 12 cities across the continent, which poses a different risk for the spread of the disease and, according to Dye. “The idea of controlling spread close to venues would essentially be an impossibility.

“The issue of responsibility will be very important as well. What’s happening in Italy at the moment will be one factor that will be taken into account. But Italy in February when it comes to April and May will look like relatively distant past.”

Day said he thought the likelihood of the coronavirus mutating into a stronger strain was unlikely this year but that the occurrence of victims testing positive after having apparently already recovered from the virus was concerning.

“We don’t know why this has happened. It could be that the testing was not rigorous enough”, he said. “But if it is the case that immunity is not long lasting then developing a vaccine for coronavirus will be more difficult”.

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