The Vancouver Canucks have identified the source of a serious COVID-19 outbreak that has seen 21 players and four staff members test positive as of Wednesday.
The team issued a statement confirming that 18 players from the main roster, three players from the taxi squad and four staff members have tested positive for a variant of the virus since March 31, when the first case was reported.
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One additional player was also considered to be a close contact.
“An ongoing investigation by Vancouver Coastal Health and club contact tracing staff attributes the source infection to a single individual obtained in a community setting, which has since been identified by public health as a public exposure location,” the statement read.
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“Rapid spread of infection throughout the team indicates a link between contacts and the primary case.”
The Canucks had a league-high 18 players on the COVID protocol list Tuesday, the second most all season behind only the New Jersey Devils’ 19 in February.
Team doctor Jim Bovard and infectious disease doctor Josh Douglas said in the statement that a specific variant has yet to be determined but, according to NESN, it is believed to be the Brazilian variant that causes more severe symptoms, like vomiting, cramping and dehydration, in younger patients.
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“The health and safety of players, staff, families and the greater community remains the utmost priority,” the team’s statement read. “COVID-19 infections are rising in BC. This is a stark reminder of how quickly the virus can spread and its serious impact, even among healthy, young athletes.”
The Canucks have not played a game since March 24 and all future games have been suspended indefinitely.
An NHL spokesperson told CBC on Tuesday that “a 56-game season is still the focus.”