This means that indoor sports games can be turned into events with super-distributors, the researchers said in the weekly report of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The game was played on June 16 at an ice rink in Tampa, and the next day, one player, considered a patient marker, developed Covid-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and headache. Two days later, he tested positive for the virus, the Florida Department of Health said.
Each team had 11 players, all men, between the ages of 19 and 53, with six on the ice and five on the bench at any given time during the game, the researchers said. Each team also shared separate locker rooms, usually for 20 minutes before and after the 60-minute game, and no one wore face masks to control illness.
“During the five days after the game, 15 people showed signs and symptoms compatible with Korana virus disease 2019. 13 of the 15 sick people tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the virus. COVID-19, “the researchers wrote. Two of the sick people were not tested.
While 62% of the players showed symptoms of Covid-19, the umpires on the ice did not, not a single spectator at the stands.
Ice rink suitable for Covid-19 transmission
Ice hockey involves intense physical exercise with intense breathing during the game and frequent contact between players.
“The rink provides a space that is most likely to transmit COVID-19 as an indoor environment where deep breathing occurs and individuals are very close to each other,” the researchers noted.
More than one player may have been infected during the game, the researchers identified, but believe the index patient was the source of the transmission while 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.
The analysis was limited because not all players were screened for the virus and asymptomatic infections may not have been detected.
“Indoor space and close contact between players during a hockey game increase the risk of infection for players and create opportunities for a superspreader event, especially with the ongoing community transmission COVID-19,” the study concluded.
“The rink provides a space that is most likely to transmit COVID-19 as an indoor environment where deep breathing occurs and people are very close to each other,” they added.
Sparse information about Covid-19 is spread at sporting events
There are few published studies or reports on Covid-19 transmission related to specific sports games or practices, other than those reported in the news, the CDC said.
In New Hamphire, 158 residents associated with 23 different ice hockey teams or organizations have been diagnosed with Covid-19 in the past two months, said Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist. Of the 158 cases, 117 have been linked to individual cases and 41 are not related to a specific outbreak but are linked to ice hockey, Chan said. “Hockey was one of the high-risk activities where we have seen a significant spread,” Chan added.
People believed to be infected with coronavirus through their relationship with hockey have also potentially exposed others to at least 24 different K-12 schools in the state, he said, noting that the game increases the risk of exposure and spreads to other facilities and organizations.
On Thursday, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu ordered a halt to all ice activities indoors for the next two weeks.
Other possible superspreader events
The virus has also spread to meat processing plants and was linked to an outbreak involving 57 participants in a high-intensity gymnastics dance class in South Korea.
Jennifer Henderson contributed to this report.