Lambton’s MOH says recreational sports spreading COVID-19

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Lambton’s medical officer of health says there is a link between kids playing organized sports and COVID-19 in local schools.

Today, 20 schools in Lambton County have at least one case of COVID-19, something Dr. Sudit Ranade calls concerning. It’s the highest number of cases in schools since the pandemic began.

All three Corunna elementary schools have cases of COVID-19, as does Watford’s Catholic elementary school, Holy Rosary in Wyoming, Brooke Central – which is now closed for two weeks because testing found a COVID-19 variant, and LCCVI.

“The spread is linked to these recreational sporting activities,” says Ranade.

Until today, four minor hockey leagues are still holding games, East Lambton, Mooretown, Lambton Attack – which has games scheduled until Wednesday and the Sarnia Junior Sting. Last night, East Lambton Minor Hockey ended its season.

“It is with great reluctance that we are sending this email. Due to the class and school closures within our association, and some of our teams having to quarantine, we have made the decision to shut down for the season,” wrote ELMHA President Adam MacKellar.

Ranade says it is understandable kids and their parents want to get back to the rink. “I’m not trying to blame people for this behaviour. It’s very normal to look around and say ‘if I can do this, why can’t I do this?'”

But Ranade says with extra activities comes increased contact with other people and the chance of the virus spreading.

“The tendency to want to go back to those things is also pushing a lot of increased socializing and close contact between people.”

Ranade, who meets with municipal leaders weekly, says while nothing is off the table, including the possibility of asking municipalities to close arenas, he says other factors come into play as well.

“The other thing to consider is how much of the season is left…some of the municipalities have said they are just wrapping things up and they have another week to go and maybe they weren’t going to do much more than that.”

Ranade says public health will be watching the situation closely and may make recommendations to municipalities if conditions worsen and play continues.

“We’re really trying to focus not on the nice-to-haves but the need-to-haves…I know there is a large cultural factor here that would say some of our sporting events are need-to-have, when it really comes down to it, they’re nice-to-have,” says Ranade.