New measures helped reduce COVID-19 transmission in organized sports: Ottawa Public Health
Students from John McCrea Secondary School play hockey at the Walter Baker Sports Centre in Ottawa on Thursday, January 19, 2012. Hockey groups across the country are looking for ways to manage runaway scores in a bid to keep the sport fun for kids. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
OTTAWA -- Just over a week after sounding the alarm over COVID-19 spreading among Ottawa's sports teams, Ottawa Public Health suggests new measures that came into effect three weeks ago have helped reduce COVID-19 transmission within teams.
On Thursday, public health declared seven COVID-19 outbreaks amid local sports teams resolved. A total of 54 cases of COVID-19 had been linked to the seven outbreaks.
In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Ottawa Public Health said, "Our most recent data suggests that the new measures which came into effect Oct. 9 have played a role in reducing the occurrence of COVID-19 transmission/outbreaks in these settings."
"And we are continuing to work closely with sports organizations in the city and region to support them in implementing provincial precautions."
Among the new measures announced on Oct. 9 when the Ontario Government moved Ottawa into a modified Stage 2, sports teams were limited to training sessions, with no games or scrimmages.
"The announcement of these outbreaks brought increased public awareness of the risks associated with certain activities, such as indoor physical activity, and especially the behaviors surrounding these activities," said public health, noting transmission could occur while sharing rides and meals, not practicing social distancing and not wearing masks.
On Oct. 21, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches warned that organized team sports was contributing to the spread of COVID-19 in Ottawa.
"COVID-19 transmission is occurring in both adults and children's leagues and in a variety of sports," said Dr. Etches.
The medical officer of health said Ottawa Public Health had seen COVID-19 transmission among hockey and football teams.
"It's before the game, people carpooling together with people outside their household, during the game. It's practices when people are in contact with each other, after the game. It's people gathering and maybe sharing a meal with each other," said Dr. Etches.
"It's not just the play on the ice, for example, but other connections that are made, other close contacts in relation to the activity."
Ottawa Public Health did not name any of the teams involved in the seven outbreaks. The University of Ottawa reported in October that five members of the football team had tested positive for novel coronavirus.