At first of the worldwide pandemic, Dr Daniel Koch, head of communicable illnesses on the Swiss Federal Workplace of Public Well being, gained widespread respect in his house nation due to common and reassuring recommendation on combating the COVID-19 virus. As medical advisor to UEFA EURO 2020, the advantages of Dr Koch’s experience will attain far past his native Switzerland.
Since becoming a member of European soccer’s governing physique in January 2021, Dr Koch has performed a key function in guaranteeing UEFA meets its primary goal for the EUROs – minimising the dangers of an infection for everybody concerned within the match, from gamers and match officers to organisers and the restricted numbers of returning followers. This has concerned working intently with authorities and well being authorities in any respect 11 host EURO venues and serving to the governing physique produce its personal minimum health and hygiene requirements to complement native rules in every nation.
Speaking to UEFA Direct on the eve of UEFA EURO 2020, Dr Koch decribed himself as “very happy and fairly optimistic”.
How are you feeling about the place we’re forward of the match?
“If we take a look at the numbers in Europe now, the curves are taking place. That was considerably anticipated, as a result of it’s coming into summer time, and respiratory viruses are seasonal in our area. So, we’re assured and completely satisfied in the intervening time, as a result of after we began the planning, this was not so clear.”
Is it an enormous victory to have the ability to retain the idea of internet hosting it in 11 completely different cities throughout Europe?
“I don’t suppose it’s a victory; I feel it’s a bonus. It’s higher to have it unfold round so we have now extra flexibility if one of many cities [drops] out, however for now, we’re very completely satisfied that it’s stayed at this massive variety of 11. I feel it was an incorrect assumption to say it could be a lot simpler if there’s just one nation, as a result of then you’ve followers from throughout going to the identical place and going again, which produces precisely the identical hazard of spreading.”
Who’s UEFA’s EURO 2020 medical advisor?
After learning medication within the Swiss capital of Bern and qualifying as a doctor, in 1988, Dr Koch joined the Worldwide Committee of the Crimson Cross (ICRC). Throughout his 14-year profession with the ICRC, he served as medical coordinator in Sierra Leone, Uganda, South Africa and Peru. In 1996/97, Dr Koch obtained a Grasp’s diploma in public well being (MPH) on the famend Johns Hopkins College in Baltimore in the US.
In addition to serving as the pinnacle of communicable illnesses at Switzerland’s Federal Workplace of Public Well being, Dr Koch additionally oversaw the pandemic preparedness and vaccination sections. In 2002/03, he was a member of a process pressure addressing the SARS pandemic, the H5N1 avian influenza and, subsequently, the influenza pandemic H1N1 in 2009.
Has the pan-European format really been a bonus for staging the match throughout a pandemic?
“Sure. I feel it isn’t proper to say, ‘OK, if we shut every thing, that’s the most secure choice’, as a result of what we’ve seen now’s that followers go and have their events in any case, whether or not it’s organised or not. So, it’s a lot safer to organize and to organise, and I feel the benefit is that, now, 11 locations can organise their safety for the followers – as a result of it’s clear that the safety of the followers is, for UEFA, a high precedence – and that makes it simpler. The chance that it will get uncontrolled is far much less.
“EURO 2020’s pan-European format additionally implies that 9 nationwide groups will play at house. These followers can attend their group’s matches with out having to cross borders.
“In fact, we have now to be cautious as a result of worldwide journey just isn’t solely depending on UEFA’s place. It’s actually the large subject in Europe, and we have now to see how that develops within the subsequent few weeks. I feel, usually, it’ll be flying in and flying out. I feel that would be the extra regular factor.”
What would your message be to the groups and the followers?
“Play honest. The footballers are enjoying honest. I feel [the fans need] to be cautious, to take pleasure in it but in addition to respect the principles.”