The hockey game turned into a COVID-19 superspreader event

The hockey game turned into a COVID-19 superspreader event
The hockey game turned into a COVID-19 superspreader event
A recreational ice hockey game in Florida turned into a “superspreader” event when 14 of 22 players developed COVID-19 after the game, including players from both teams. This emerges from a new report.

The report was published on Thursday (October 15) in the Journal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Weekly report on morbidity and mortality, highlights the particular risk that indoor sporting events pose to the spread of COVID-19, the authors said.

The game, which took place on an ice rink in Tampa Bay, Florida on June 16, included two teams of 11 players each from researchers from the Florida Department of Health, according to the report. Typically, there were six players on the ice and five on the bench at any given time, the report said. All players were male and between 19 and 53 years old. None of the players wore cloth masks on the ice or in the locker rooms, although some players wore hockey-related face shields such as metal cages or plastic half-shields that covered the eyes and top of the nose.

The game lasted 60 minutes and players spent around 20 minutes in the locker room before and after the game, with each team having a separate locker room.

The day after the game (June 17), one of the players developed a fever, cough, sore throat, and headache and tested positive for COVID-19. In the following four days (June 18-21) another 13 players developed symptoms of COVID-19 – eight players were on the same team as in the first case and five players were on the opposing team. An employee of the ice rink also developed Symptoms of COVID-19 in the days after the game.

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Of the total of 15 cases (including the initial case and the rink worker), a positive test confirmed 11 had COVID-19 and two were not tested, the report said. Asymptomatic players were not tested, so there may have been additional ones asymptomatic cases.

The players had no other joint exposures in the week leading up to the game, and the researchers believe that one player transmitted COVID-19 to the other players during the game while being presymptomatic.

The new report is one of the first to document the spread of COVID-19 at a sports event or sports practice, despite a number of individual reports.

“The rink provides a place likely well suited for COVID-19 transmission as an indoor space where deep breathing occurs and people are in close proximity to each other,” the report said.

The cold temperatures of the ice rink can also contribute to the spread of the virus, as suggested by outbreaks in meat processing plants. In cold temperatures, the virus can survive longer outside the body, including in the air. according to Wired. And one study found that the novel coronavirus particles can travel more than 8 meters in the cold, stale air of a slaughterhouse. according to Bloomberg.

The area around the ice rink creates the potential for a “superspreader event, especially if there is ongoing COVID-19 transmission in the community,” they concluded.

Originally published on Live Science.

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