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Canucks’ Outbreak Can Be Traced to a Variant, Team Says

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A Covid-19 outbreak inside an N.H.L. team that began on March 30 has now impacted most of its players.

The Vancouver Canucks said in a statement released by a team physician and an infectious disease doctor on Wednesday that the organization had 25 confirmed cases, 21 players (three from the taxi squad) and four staff members. The statement, from the team physician Jim Bovard and the infectious disease physician Josh Douglas, also said “the source infection is confirmed a variant.”

There are currently only four active Canucks players — Brock Boeser, Jimmy Vesey, Jordie Benn, and J.T. Miller — who are not on the protocol list. Defenseman Nate Schmidt was added to the N.H.L.’s Covid-19 protocol list Wednesday, according to multiple reports, and forward Jake Virtanen was added Tuesday.

Since the initial case, there has been at least one Canucks player added to the protocol list each day, including seven on Saturday. The players had been suspicious that they might have contracted the P.1 variant that originated in Brazil. The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control must determine which variant is the source of the outbreak, the team said.

“I’m pretty sure we’re dealing with the Brazilian variant,” Micaela Gaudette, the wife of Canucks forward Adam Gaudette, said in an telephone interview on Monday. “I think that it’s like two and a half times more easily spread than just the original Covid variant.”

The P.1 variant has seen a spike in the Vancouver region over recent weeks. On Tuesday, the province announced 1,068 new cases of Covid-19, including three deaths and 207 new cases from variants of concern.

“My heart goes out to the Canucks,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, in a news conference on Tuesday. “I know Vancouver Coastal is working very closely with them to make sure that they get the support that they need, that the team members and their families are assessed and tested and get the health care that they need as well.”

She added: “This is a cautionary tale for all of us. We have seen an increase in the last few months or few weeks of the P.1 and it’s a strain that we’re screening for.”

Vancouver’s next two scheduled games, on the road against the Calgary Flames on Thursday and Saturday, have been postponed, according to the Canucks’ website. The Canucks have already missed four games due to the outbreak within the organization, and the league shuffled their opponents’ upcoming schedules.

Even with a depleted roster and a vulnerable region, there is still hope in continuing their season. With the Canucks currently out of the playoff picture, Micaela Gaudette is urging the league not to push the team and its players to complete the 56-game regular season.

“I think it would be awful if they tried to squeeze in extra games,” she said. “Finishing up the season, like the last two weeks, wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. But I would think it would be pretty bad if they tried to squeeze in those extra games because these guys are already going to have fatigue issues and they’re coming off of that illness.

“Especially after this, it would not be good for anyone.”

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