Soccer leagues in the Edmonton area are cancelling usual post-game handshakes for the remainder of the season amid fears of the spread of the new coronavirus.
The Edmonton Minor Soccer Association and the St. Albert Soccer Association both issued advisories to staff, parents and players, even though there have been no confirmed cases of the virus in Alberta.
A notice from the Edmonton association says the current risk to Canadians is low, but it would “like to take a proactive approach to stop the spread of any germs should the virus become present in our province.”
Instead of shaking hands, the association says teams will stand in front of each other at the end of each game and cheer for opposing players and referees.
“Immediately after, they will advance to their respective dressing rooms,” the notice reads. “This applies to all competitions and all genders and age groups.”
The advisory from St. Albert, just northeast of Edmonton, tells players and coaches to say “good game” without shaking hands.
Both associations say anyone who displays symptoms of coronavirus — fever, difficulty breathing, cough and a general unwell feeling — will be sent home immediately.
Soccer groups aren’t the only ones issuing coronavirus advisories.
Hockey Canada sent out a bulletin Thursday advising leagues to continue proper hygiene practices such as frequent handwashing and not sharing water bottles.
It is also recommending fist bumps — with hockey gloves on — instead of shaking hands at the end of games.
The notices this week come even as Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has repeatedly stressed that the new coronavirus is unlikely to be transmitted through casual contact and will most likely only be contracted by people with close, prolonged contact with an infected patient.
There have been four confirmed cases in Canada so far — three in Ontario and one in British Columbia.
Alberta health officials say plans are in place to handle any cases in the province should they happen.