Hockey games at Membertou rink tied to cluster of cases, says Strang

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A cluster of cases are related to hockey games that were played at the Membertou Sport & Wellness Centre. (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)
A cluster of cases are related to hockey games that were played at the Membertou Sport & Wellness Centre. (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)

Hockey games at a Cape Breton rink have been identified as the source of a cluster of COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia's eastern zone.

The potential for high-risk exposure involves games played at the Membertou Sport & Wellness Centre on the weekend of April 17-18. Public Health is investigating confirmed cases of COVID-19 and evidence of transmission.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said all weekend visitors to the arena should get tested and self-isolate until the end of May 2.

"You can come out of isolation to get a test, and then you have to stay in isolation," Strang said Sunday. "This is a serious situation with lives, jobs and futures at stake. Each of us needs to respond with the necessary focus and caution."

Membertou's rink houses two NHL-regulation ice surfaces, an indoor walking track, a YMCA gym and multi-purpose meeting and event rooms.

Potential exposure dates at Membertou Sport & Wellness Centre are:

  • Saturday, April 17, between 6:15 p.m. and 10 p.m.

  • Sunday, April 18, between 12:45 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.

'It kinda hit home'

Brent Desveaux was notified he would need to be tested on Saturday morning. The Sydney man said he watched two games of under-18 playoff hockey in Membertou and left his contact information at the door.

Desveaux said he's gone to work and local grocery stores since watching the games. Fortunately, he was told on Monday that his test was negative.

"It kinda hit home when you see that," Desveaux said of the email that landed in his inbox. "You never think you're going to be part of the whole process, but here you are."

Testing scheduled

Desveaux said he followed advice from the Department of Health and Wellness and booked himself into testing. He is scheduled for another test in the coming days.

A former Junior A hockey scout, Desveaux believes there was upwards of 500 people at the Membertou rink during the two days.

"You look at all the cases going on at the schools and this potential super-spreader, I call it, at Membertou — it is scary. We don't know what the next week or two weeks is going to bring."

Brendan Elliott, a spokesperson for the health authority, said it's unclear how many people were at at the rink during the exposure period.

Deveaux said he was pleased with the way the situation was handled. He was told by 811 to make an appointment at the fire hall on Grand Lake Road.

About 50 or 75 people were at the hall getting testing on Sunday when Deveaux arrived.

"Everything has come along quickly in the last few days," said Deveaux.

"I mean, if you look at CBRM since the COVID started, we've been really safe, I guess. This is really the first time since the pandemic hit that the CBRM has been really impacted."

Where to get COVID tested

If you were at the Membertou rink during April 17 or April 18, testing is now available at the follows locations:

  • Drop-in testing is happening at the Membertou Entertainment Centre Monday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. This testing is open to all, including those who have symptoms, have been at a potential exposure site or have been contacted by Public Health.

  • Rapid-testing is available for people 16 and over with no symptoms or exposures at the Cape Breton Health Recreation Complex, 1st floor, at Cape Breton University Monday from 2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Tuesday, between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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