Waterloo Public Health says there have been four confirmed COVID-19 cases of the Omicron variant in the region connected to nine teams from the area, with more expected.
Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang told reporters on Monday that there were a total of 14 cases suspected among the nine hockey and baseball teams.
“At this time, cases have a very high number of contacts, and there are over 500 high-risk contacts associated with these 14 cases and clusters,” she said.
“The large number of cases associated with these sports teams is further indication that Omicron is likely already spreading rapidly and extensively in our community, as it is doing elsewhere in Ontario.”
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The Ontario Minor Hockey Association requires players over the age of 12 to be vaccinated if they are on travelling teams.
Wang said that most of the nine teams involved kids aged 5-11 although at least one was over that age group.
She also said that since a large portion of the cases was connected to kids in the area, schools were also being affected.
“Due to this quickly evolving situation, in addition to scaling up case and contact resources, public health will be focusing our direct contact efforts on higher-risk situations and settings, such as outbreaks in congregate care homes and schools.”
She is also recommending that area residents avoid non-essential contact if they can.
“I’m also asking all businesses in Waterloo Region to enable work from home to the extent possible as soon as possible,” Wang said.
“I will also be asking our schools and school boards to pause all sports and extracurricular activities for the rest of the year, in order to decrease the risk of class dismissals and school closures.”
She said the move is an attempt to avoid having to close schools for the rest of the year.
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