This means indoor sports can turn into super-prevalent events, the researchers said in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly report.
The game was played on June 16 at an ice rink in Tampa, and the next day, a player, considered an indicative patient, experienced symptoms of Covid-19, including fever, cough, sore throat and headache. The Florida Department of Health stated that two days later, he tested positive for the virus.
The researchers reported that each team had 11 players, all male, between the ages of 19 and 53, six of whom were on ice and five on the bench at any time during the match. Each team also participated in separate locker rooms, usually for the 20 minutes before and after the 60-minute match, and no one wore cloth face masks to fight disease.
“During the five days after the match, 15 people experienced signs and symptoms consistent with Coronavirus disease 2019; 13 out of 15 patients had positive laboratory test results indicating infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,” he wrote Researchers. Two patients were not examined.
While 62% of players experienced Covid-19 symptoms, neither the referees nor the sole spectator were in the stands.
The ice rink is well suited for Covid-19 transportation
Ice hockey involves vigorous physical exertion with intense breathing during the game and frequent contact between players.
The researchers noted that “the ice rink is likely a suitable place for the transmission of COVID-19 as an indoor environment where deep breathing occurs, and people are in close proximity to one another.”
The researchers acknowledged that more than one player may have been infected during the match, but they believe that the index patient was the source of transmission while he was still asymptomatic.
The average incubation time for Covid-19 is four to five days from exposure to the onset of symptoms and ranges from two to 14 days, according to the CDC.
Analysis was limited because not all players were tested for the virus and asymptomatic infections may not have been identified.
The study concluded that “internal space and close contact between players during a hockey game increase the risk of infection for players and create the possibility of a highly prevalent event, especially with the ongoing transmission of COVID-19 from society.”
They added: “The ice rink is likely a suitable place for the transmission of COVID-19 as an indoor environment where deep breathing occurs, and people are in close proximity to each other.”
Sporadic information on Covid-19 is spreading at sporting events
The CDC noted that there have been few studies or published reports about the transmission of the Covid-19 virus linked to specific games or sports practices, other than what has been reported in the news.
Dr. Benjamin Chan, a state epidemiologist, said Thursday that in New Hampfer, 158 people associated with 23 different ice hockey teams or organizations have been diagnosed with Covid-19 over the past two months. Of the 158 cases, Chan said, 117 were linked to a separate outbreak and 41 were not related to a specific outbreak, but were linked to ice hockey. “Hockey was one of the high-stakes activities where we’ve seen a hype,” Chan added.
He said that people believed to have contracted the coronavirus through their association with hockey had also been exposed to others in at least 24 different K-12 schools in the state, noting that the game increases the risk of exposure and spread to other facilities and organizations.
On Thursday, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sunono ordered a halt to all ice activities in indoor facilities for the next two weeks.
Other potential superspreader events
Coronavirus has also spread through meat processing plants and has been linked to an outbreak in which 57 participants took part in high-intensity fitness dance classes in South Korea.
Jennifer Henderson contributed to this report.