They confirm 140 cases of covid-19 between teams and service providers of the Copa América

Sao Paulo, Brazil (CNN) – At least 140 positive cases of covid-19 have been confirmed among players, delegation members and service providers since the start of the Copa América tournament in Brazil on June 13, according to the country’s Ministry of Health.

Brazil was chosen to host the soccer tournament earlier this month despite concerns about the still uncontrolled spread of covid-19 in the country, following the exclusion of the original host countries, Argentina and Colombia. Brazil ranks second in the world for number of COVID-19 deaths after the United States, and crossed the grim threshold of 500,000 deaths over the weekend.

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Half of the national teams participating in the Copa América have been affected by covid-19 so far. Venezuela, the most affected team, registered eight infected players in its last report. Colombia, Bolivia and Peru also have staff with coronavirus. The South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) does not disclose the number of cases per national team.

As the tournament began, Argentine superstar Lionel Messi expressed concern about contracting the virus while with his national team.

View of the hotel where the Chilean soccer team is staying, in Cuiabá, Brazil. (Photo by DOUGLAS MAGNO / AFP via Getty Images)

“We are concerned because it is a risk for everyone to catch COVID,” he told reporters. “We try to be careful, but it is not easy. These things happen”.

“We will try to do everything possible so that no one is infected, but sometimes it does not depend solely on ourselves.”

Of the positive cases confirmed so far in the Copa América, 42 were among players and members registered in national teams, 97 cases were detected among service providers contracted for the event, and one case was a Conmebol staff member.

That is a significant increase from the last report on covid-19 in the tournament. Last week, the Health Ministry reported 37 positive cases among players and delegation members and 45 among tournament service providers.

Infections have been recorded in the four host cities: Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Cuiaba, and Goiania.