Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

An infectious disease expert says the NHL’s first positive test for COVID-19 doesn’t come as a surprise.

It’s also an example of why social distancing is crucial in the fight to slow the widening pandemic that’s sweeping large chunks of the globe.

The Ottawa Senators announced late Tuesday one of their players had contracted the novel coronavirus. The team said the individual, who hasn’t been identified publicly, had mild symptoms and is in isolation.

Story continues below advertisement

According to Dr. Gerald Evans, the positive test serves as a reminder to heed the advice from public health and government officials about avoiding crowded areas, keeping a buffer between people and working from home when possible.

“This is a really nice example,” said Evans, the chair of the infectious disease division at Queen’s University in Kingston. “It’s important to remember that somebody like this [player] who was identified was probably infected anywhere from one to two weeks ago [when] there were still games being played.

“The Senators, as well as other teams they were in contact with, are likely to have facilitated some sort of transmission.”

Ottawa played in San Jose, Calif., against the Sharks on March 7 despite the county where SAP Center is located recommending no large public gatherings days earlier. It was one of three NHL games held in San Jose after the recommendation was made.

The Senators then had two days off in California before meeting the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings on consecutive nights. Ottawa’s game at Staples Center last Wednesday came 24 hours after the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets – who announced Tuesday that four players had tested positive for COVID-19 – played at the same arena against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The NHL, along with most other sports leagues and organizations in North America, paused its season late last week after Rudy Gobert of the NBA’s Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19. Six other NBA players, including one of Gobert’s teammates, have also tested positive.

The Senators, who notified everyone that had known close contact with the member of the team in question, provided an update Wednesday, saying medical personnel are “actively monitoring players and staff and following all appropriate and professional guidelines to help ensure the health and safety of our employees and the greater community.”

Story continues below advertisement

“Players are being accessed and tested under the supervision of public health authorities,” the team said in an e-mail. “All Ottawa Senators players and staff who recently travelled were instructed to self-quarantine on Saturday and do not pose a public health risk to the community.”

But as Evans points out, that’s only been the case since the isolation started.

“These guys travel a lot,” he said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press. “They’re in contact with large numbers of people during their travels, and as a necessity in interactions they have with other teams.

“That’s the kind of prime setup we know that can lead to typical transmission of this virus. It’s not highly transmissible, but readily transmissible between people.”

Most people diagnosed with the coronavirus experience mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. The vast majority of those recover, and according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the risk to the general population is low.

But for some, including those 65 years of age and older, those with compromised immune systems or those with pre-existing conditions, the illness can be much more severe. Among the Canadians diagnosed with the illness, so far fewer than 15 per cent have required hospitalization.

Story continues below advertisement

Evans said it’s reasonable to expect more NHL players will test positive for COVID-19 in the coming days and weeks.

And social distancing could play a key role in determining how far the virus spreads.

“We know that as this moves along, more and more of the general population is likely to be infected,” Evans said. “I want everybody to take this seriously – do all that social distancing and all the rest. Celebrities like athletes are going to pop up [with the virus], but so are regular people that everyone knows in their day-to-day life.

“I need to just make sure that people realize this will eventually end at some point.”

Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub

In the interests of public health and safety, our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access. However, The Globe depends on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe to globeandmail.com. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.

Your subscription helps The Globe and Mail provide readers with critical news at a critical time. Thank you for your continued support. We also hope you will share important coronavirus news articles with your friends and family. In the interest of public health and safety, all our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies