Sports Analysis: Hudson tennis club closes following COVID-19 exposure

06:09  30 july  2020
06:09  30 july  2020 Source:   montrealgazette.com

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The Royal Oak Tennis Club in Hudson closed on Wednesday after learning of a COVID-19 case among at least one of its members — the latest athletic facility in the Montreal area to have to shut down amid a resurgence in the pandemic.

Although club president Arlene Kingsland cited a single case in an email to members, a well-placed source told the Montreal Gazette that two juniors were infected. The preteens enrolled in the recreational program attended a tennis clinic on Saturday mornings — a group lesson involving many children on one or two courts lasting two hours.

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“Dear members, we have just received confirmation that we have a COVID case at the club and must therefore shut down operations immediately and until further notice,” Kingsland said in the email. “More information to follow.”

In the meantime, coaches and others are awaiting test results. Complicating matters is that children from other clubs have taken part in the Saturday clinics. Kingsland and four other staff of the Royal Oak were not immediately available for comment.

The long-established tennis club is the second local athletic facility to close in less than a week, raising concerns that the public health measures that Quebec put in place to allow amateur sports to continue in the pandemic have failed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

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On Monday, the owner of the Hockey Montreal summer camp in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce told the Gazette he decided to close for the rest of the season after a 23-year-old coach and “three or four” teenagers tested positive for the coronavirus. Eric Rayment said he reacted initially in disbelief to the news of the infections, since he went well beyond what was required by the public health guidelines to keep his club safe.

The borough of Lachine has still not reopened three public pools and a water park after at least three lifeguards tested positive following an initiation party a couple of weeks ago. Meanwhile, La Tribune reported on Wednesday that five ball hockey players in Sherbrooke, aged 18 to 22, are infected.

Perhaps Quebecers now have a better idea as to why deputy premier Geneviève Guilbault held a news conference on Monday to warn that “we see a worrying spike in contagion among teens and young adults.”

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In her remarks, Guilbault focused on large house parties in violation of the 10-person private residence  rule, urging young people not to share a beer or a hug. It’s true that house parties, like a massive one in the Montérégie on June 28, have caused outbreaks. (On Wednesday, the Quebec City health authority confirmed a 16-person outbreak was traced to two parties last weekend.)

But Quebec is now also witnessing clusters of cases in both indoor and outdoor sports like hockey, swimming and tennis. This does not portend well as Quebec has plans to allow indoor gatherings of up to 250 people for amateur sports as of Monday.

Neither Guilbault nor Health Minister Christian Dubé have publicly addressed the risks involved in group sports during the pandemic. The province’s announcement last Friday permitting the larger gatherings offered no new guidelines for indoor sports.

What Dubé has warned against is the proliferation of large house parties . In contrast, Dubé has played down the risks associated with keeping bars open despite outbreaks linked to them and scientific evidence that they are superspreading venues for the coronavirus.

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On Monday, Dr. Richard Massé, a public health adviser to the government, spoke in an almost matter-of-fact manner about a disturbing outbreak that has infected at least 27 people connected to a day camp in Boucherville.

Despite all these outbreaks and the fact Quebec has posted daily cases well above a hundred for more than two weeks, the government has not backed down from its decision to increase the limit on public gatherings from 50 to 250 people. The closest Dubé has come to a concession of any kind is to hint he might make some “modifications” to outdoor gatherings.

A group of Montreal doctors is deeply worried about Quebec’s decision to reopen bars on June 25 and is against the larger gatherings. But the physicians don’t want to jeopardize their careers speaking out against Premier François Legault.

Perhaps the government is confident that making face coverings mandatory in public spaces on July 18 will be enough to counter the COVID-19 resurgence. But many people, especially younger Quebecers, are still not wearing masks or are letting their noses poke out of them.

Perhaps the government is confident because the numbers of deaths and hospitalizations have plummeted. But COVID-19 is still sending people to hospital, as Quebec observed 50 new hospitalizations in the past seven days.

Now is not the time for complacency. The multiple outbreaks among young people, the rising case numbers and even the new hospitalizations should give authorities pause, especially since schools will reopen in less than five weeks. Now is the time for more measures to truly counter the resurgence.




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