Dr. Colby Discusses The Risk Of COVID-19 At Sporting Events, And To Our Community

Hockey Fans Blenheim Ontario

Crowds like this might not be the norm at arenas and stadiums for long – Photo by Kelsey Vermeersch/ CKSN.ca

It seems likely that it’s only a matter of time before the coronavirus, or COVID-19, makes its way to Chatham-Kent, as the virus continues to spread worldwide.

One of the major impacts across the globe, has been increased restrictions for sports fans and media, and the complete cancellation of sporting events.

According to Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health, precautions such as the cancellation of sporting events, and restrictions place around large gatherings of fans are currently the best measures to take.

“When a virus starts to spread within the community, as opposed to the situation we have seen so far, where the cases have been linked to foreign travel and can be identified and isolated, than different measures have to be undertaken,” Colby explained to CKSN.

“People need to avoid large crowds, avoid close contact with sick people, and increase their social distance.”

For those venturing into public spaces, such as arenas or stadiums, Dr. Colby also has advice for personal precautions.

“Personally, people need to wash their hands often and cough/sneeze into a tissue or their sleeve at the elbow, not the hand. Masks are for helping infected people not spread the virus, not for protecting the uninfected.”

Not only are people in large crowds at added risk, but Dr. Colby understands the cancellation of events particularly factoring in teams and athletes who have to travel to and from “hot” areas where the virus has already spread farther.

“The implications for sporting events are obvious, including when teams may travel to and from “hot” areas. We are seeing countries cancelling events.”

Recently, officials cancelled the World Women’s Hockey Championships, as well as events such as the World Half Marathon Championships, and other countries have banned fans from arenas and stadiums, and any gatherings where people gather in large numbers, or in close proximity.

The virus, which according to Dr. Colby is spread mainly through direct contact and over short distances (3m or less) by coughing and sneezing.

While Chatham-Kent has yet to have a case of COVID-19 (coronavirus), Dr. Colby urges people to take precautions to slow the spread, because the alternative would potentially overwhelm our health systems.

“The situation changes daily,” Dr. Colby said. “We may not be able to keep COVID-19 contained, but the measures (discussed above) will greatly help slow the spread. If everyone gets this virus at once, even the small proportion of people that become critically ill would overwhelm our acute care resources.”

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