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Ottawa Public Health has asked sports organizations in the city to consider temporarily suspending indoor sports and team activities.

A letter sent to the organizations on Friday says contact sports are considered high-risk activities for the transmission of COVID-19.

“Primary risk factors for transmission of COVID-19 include close contact, enclosed spaces, crowded places, prolonged exposure, and forced expiration, all of which are prevalent in organized indoor sporting activities,” the statement said. note. “Additionally, participants may be more vulnerable to COVID-19, as they are often children and young people, who may not be fully immunized, and often may not wear masks or maintain physical distancing when engaging. to physical activity.”

This comes as Canada experiences a massive increase in transmission of COVID-19 due to the Omicron variant. The number of cases has skyrocketed, leading to even higher demand for testing, leading Ontario to impose limits on PCR testing. Anyone who cannot take a test is asked to self-isolate if they develop symptoms of COVID-19.

Medical Officer of Health Dr Vera Etches said in a year-end statement that residents should consider avoiding activities like indoor and team sports at this time.

“Over the next few weeks, everyone in Ottawa needs to focus on reducing transmission of COVID-19 to get on the other side of this Omicron push with a more immunized and protected community. We have a lot of control when it comes to protecting each other, our loved ones and our community to help get through this wave,” she said.

OPH’s recommendation to suspend indoor contact sports and team play goes beyond provincial guidelines, announced Thursday, which allow “only low-contact indoor sports and safe extracurricular activities” from of January.

“Since the risk of transmission of COVID-19 with indoor sports exists, whether school or non-school, OPH recommends that sports organizations temporarily suspend indoor contact sports and team play to mitigate the spread. and transmission of COVID-19,” the local said. says the health unit.

In late December, the City of Ottawa announced that it would require proof of vaccination for anyone 12 and older to participate in organized sports or use City of Ottawa indoor recreational or cultural facilities.

OPH recommends playing individual sports, such as running or skiing, rather than team sports. If you play a group sport, it’s best to play outdoors and choose a game with little or no contact. When not playing, wear a mask, keep physical distance, and avoid sharing food and drink.

SPO has tips and recommendations for staying active and staying COVID safe at the same time on its website.

Ontario reported a record 18,445 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, including 1,482 in Ottawa, despite testing capacity limits and changing guidelines. Another 85 hospitalizations have been reported in the province. On Friday, Ottawa Public Health reported a record 1,508 cases locally, with hospitalizations on the rise.

In an interview with CTV News Ottawa, Etches said she was talking with her provincial counterparts about tougher measures that would help keep community transmission levels low.

“I’m talking to the province about very strong measures to limit all indoor sports activities that could lead to transmission in order to prioritize keeping schools open. Hopefully we’ll see some movement this week,” a- she declared. “We know it’s temporary, we’re going to get through this Omicron wave, but right now it’s important because it’s spreading so fast, it’s going to reach more vulnerable populations, we need to do more to limit this spread in the community. “

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CTV News Ottawa that indoor gatherings pose a greater risk than being outdoors.

“We know how important extra-curricular activities are to the physical and mental health and well-being of children; this is obviously the case. We also cannot claim that children are in a vacuum and of course, children can understand this, pass it on and amplify it, especially to vulnerable people and especially at a time when our healthcare system is under tremendous strain,” he said. “In a perfect world, we would be able to do whatever we wanted, but obviously we’re not in this world and maybe a break in January on these events would be really helpful.”

He says Canadians know how to handle the cold, so even in the dead of winter there are still ways to exercise outdoors.

“I think kids can still stay physically active and do outdoor activities – this is Canada, we know how to deal with winter, we do very well in winter – there are many areas that have the outdoor ice there are lots of other different areas that kids can have good outdoor physical activities and even social gatherings in a safer outdoor environment so I think this should be encouraged at least until month of January.”