Two associations that oversee ice sports in Ottawa say they’re staying vigilant as the extent of a COVID-19 outbreak at one hockey practice becomes increasingly clear.
In November, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) used an outbreak that began at an indoor practice to illustrate how rapidly and widely the virus can spread.
On Friday, OPH shared further details, tweeting an infographic that traced how 89 COVID-19 cases and 445 high-risk contacts arose out of that one practice — all after an asymptomatic person with COVID-19 showed up.
The subsequent cases were connected to 10 sports teams or practices, four schools and one daycare, OPH said. It attributed the spread to people carpooling, not wearing masks consistently at practices and mingling later without adhering to physical-distancing guidelines.
The information outlined in the infographic is “not a surprise,” said Gary Hopkins, president of Hockey Eastern Ontario (HEO).
“Obviously it’s an excellent illustration of how this virus can spread, so that’s troubling,” he said.
Hopkins said the original cases that caused the cluster were not from one of its programs, and while HEO has had a few cases of COVID-19, it’s tracked them closely and will continue to be cautious.
“Every organization that returns to play has to have an approved return-to-hockey plan,” he said.
“If there’s any inconsistencies in the plan in terms of complying with municipal or regional facility or provincial health guidelines, then we turn those plans back to have them adjusted.”
Ringette planning ahead
On the ringette rink, organizers say they’re glad they’ve been spared any COVID-19 cases, that they know of, and say they’re also remaining vigilant.
“I’m thankful that the news came out [Friday], because our season finished on Wednesday night until January,” said Phyllis Bergmans, president of the City of Ottawa Ringette Association.
“If this news had come out a week or two or three ago, I’m not quite sure if we would have kept going.”
Bergmans said that going into 2021, her association won’t be taking any chances.
“Our squads and our bubbles are not going to change,” she said. “There was some talk about changing to bring up more inter-association play … but we shut that down and basically said, you know, as long as Ottawa is in the orange zone, we’re not changing anything.”
Both organizations said they have been discouraging gatherings among players or families outside the rink.