Friday, January 28, 2022

Organized Sports and COVID-19 – Health Unit Offers Guidance

Today, 32 cases of COVID-19 were reported in Grey-Bruce. The Grey Bruce Health Unit says that this high number is a reminder for all of us that the new variants circulating, whether Delta or Omicron (has not yet been confirmed by lab at this point in Grey Bruce), are highly transmissible and able to generate a high number of cases in a matter of days.

Although we have the capacity to manage the high number of cases and the over 1,000 close contacts currently, we need your continued vigilance over the coming few days. We are cautiously optimistic we collectively can provide Grey Bruce with safe holidays,” said the Health Unit.

At this point in time, the results of the ongoing investigations and the risk assessments of different sectors confirm the following trends:

The majority of the recent cases in students are actually associated with social activities before and after organized sports. Those activities include, but not limited to:

  • attending team parties and gatherings before or after the game (teammates are friends);
  • commuting, carpooling and busing to and from games with members outside of one’s household;
  • using and socializing in dressing rooms without following safety precautions;
  • travelling to and time spent in areas of higher rates of COVID-19 for the purposes of games and tournaments

The exception to the above is the increase in risk of transmission associated with certain sports, where unprotected, face-to-face contact is likely (basketball), where the transmission likely happened in both the game and the above social activity.

The results confirm that transmission within the school setting remains very low especially in the class setting.

There is no evidence at this time of transmission in places like malls, big box stores or grocery stores or the high impact sectors such as long-term care, retirement homes, or hospitals.

To keep sports safe in times of higher case counts, Public Health strongly recommends to young adults, teams and facility operators to implement the following measures: 

  • Adhering to physical distancing recommendations on the bench and in the stands
  • Lowering capacity limits in player and spectator areas
  • Limiting use of communal spaces outside of play, like change rooms or meeting areas
  • Preventing the following social activity
  • attending team parties and gatherings before or after the game (teammates are friends);
  • commuting, carpooling and bussing to and from games with members outside of one’s household;
  • using and socializing in dressing rooms without following safety precautions;
  • travelling to and time spent in areas of higher rates of COVID-19 for the purposes of games and tournaments

We all want to see this hockey season, and all future seasons, carry on successfully and safely for everyone, both young and old. Medical professionals have kept and continue to keep us healthy and we as amateur sports associations must ensure we do our part as well and ask our members to continue to be diligent,” said Tom Desmond, Kincardine MHA President.

The linked guidance document will provide a high-level overview of required practices.  Please consult your sports organization and/or workplace for further direction.

We all need to do our best to try to keep some form of the organized sport available to youth as long as safely possible for both the physical and mental health of the youth and their families,” said the Health Unit.

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