1 COVID-19 case on an Ottawa sports team became 7 outbreaks, 60 cases: OPH

An Ottawa Public Health graphic shows how one person with COVID-19 attending a sports practice led to seven outbreaks and 60 people testing positive. Ottawa Public Health via Twitter

What began as one person with COVID-19 practising with their sports team has become a cautionary tale from Ottawa Public Health (OPH) on the rapid transmission of the novel coronavirus.

OPH tweeted another graphic showing real-life community transmission of the virus on Monday, as it has done in the past, to show how COVID-19 spread at local events such as a wedding or outdoor barbecue.

Click to play video 'How an outdoor gathering in Ottawa led to community transmission' How an outdoor gathering in Ottawa led to community transmission
How an outdoor gathering in Ottawa led to community transmission – Sep 23, 2020

This time, the local public health unit showed what happened when one person with COVID-19 attended a sports practice.

Story continues below advertisement

Of the 31 people on that initial team, 10 ended up testing positive for the virus, with the rest considered high-risk contacts.

Those infected individuals then went back to their daily lives, bringing the virus into their homes and exposing the rest of their households. One person who tested positive in one of those households then went to a daycare setting, where 11 more people were exposed and an outbreak was subsequently declared.

One person on the original team who tested positive also then went to dine indoors with eight people outside their household bubble, OPH’s graphic shows, putting those individuals at high risk of infection as well.

Infections also overlapped onto other sports teams. One of the infected individuals from the original team went to practice with an even larger team, leading 17 people in that cohort to test positive and creating 24 more high-risk contacts.

The chain of transmission only worsened from there, exposing more households, sports teams and schools.

Read more: ‘Something that could happen to anybody,’ woman says after 3 family members catch COVID-19

In total, after 18 days, seven coronavirus outbreaks were linked to the original case.

OPH said the number of people testing positive for the virus in connection to the first case stood at 60 as of Oct. 20, though that number could continue to grow.

Story continues below advertisement

More than 170 high-risk contacts were borne out of the initial outbreak, all of whom needed to self-isolate.

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, first flagged that community spread on local sports teams had become an issue on Oct. 21, when she said OPH would start tracking outbreaks in organized sports on its COVID-19 dashboard.

She encouraged residents then to avoid carpooling to practices and to keep physical distance and wear masks while socializing with teammates.

Ottawa has so far seen seven outbreaks connected with organized sports teams, all of which are now considered closed.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: WHO chief urges leaders to ‘step up’ to stop COVID-19 spikes' Coronavirus: WHO chief urges leaders to ‘step up’ to stop COVID-19 spikes
Coronavirus: WHO chief urges leaders to ‘step up’ to stop COVID-19 spikes – Nov 2, 2020