Vancouver Canucks confirm variant responsible for team’s COVID-19 outbreak
The Vancouver Canucks confirm that a variant of the COVID-19 virus is responsible for the epidemic that has ravaged the team.
“To date, 25 people have tested positive and the source infection is confirmed as a variant – full genome sequencing by [B.C. Centre for Disease Control] will be needed to determine what specific type, ”the team’s statement read.
So far, 21 players and four staff have tested positive for COVID-19. An additional player is considered close contact.
Earlier, Vancouver Coastal Health’s chief medical officer of health told CBC News officials tracked how the virus first gained a foothold on the team.
“The Vancouver Canucks cluster… we know how the virus entered this community,” said Dr. Patricia Daly. “We are not providing details on any case.”
According to the Canucks statement, the source is “a single person obtained in a community setting, who has since been identified by public health as a public display location.”
“The rapid spread of infection throughout the team indicates a link between the contacts and the primary case.”
Forward Adam Gaudette was the first squad member to test positive for COVID-19 and was taken off the ice mid-practice on March 30.
Defenseman Travis Hamonic followed the next day and the NHL postponed the Canucks’ game against the Calgary Flames that night.
Five more games have since been postponed as the virus spread among players and staff.
The team having only played 37 of 56 regular season games, it’s unclear what the rest of the season will bring.
A spokesperson for the NHL said “a 56-game season is always the focus,” but if necessary, the league has flexibility in planning for the opening of the playoffs.
The extended layoff over the virus could be another blow to Vancouver’s already precarious playoff prospects.
Heading into Wednesday night, the Canucks (16-18-3) followed Montreal by eight points for the final playoff spot.
“The health and safety of players, staff, families and the community at large remain the top priority,” said the Canucks.
“It’s a stark reminder of how quickly the virus can spread and its severe impact, even among healthy young athletes.
All staff and players remain in quarantine, according to the team.