A member of the Hamilton Tennis Club has tested positive for COVID-19 after having visited the club for three hours on Thanksgiving Monday (Oct. 12).
In an email sent to private members of the club on Thursday, which was shared with InTheHammer, the club’s board said they were notified of the positive case Wednesday night (Oct.14) and they were working towards contacting members of the club who may have come into contact with this case.
“The last time the member was at the club was Oct 12th between 12:15 p.m. and 3 p.m.,” the email to members said. The tennis courts are located outside and the clubhouse, according to their website, is currently closed for the season.
The Hamilton Tennis Club, a private club in the centre of the city, could not be reached for comment prior to publication, but according to their website, players are asked to screen for symptoms of the virus and to stay away if they have been in contact with people who have travelled or who have tested positive for the virus in the last 14 days.
Hand sanitizing stations are located throughout the courts but players are not required to wear a mask, as per provincial guidelines.
A member of the club, who asked to remain anonymous, told InTheHammer that the courts were busy Monday.
“They were pretty full,” they said. “I would say up to 50 people could have been playing on the courts during those three hours.”
According to the Government of Canada’s Risk mitigation tool for outdoor recreation spaces and activities operating during the COVID-19 pandemic:
“While there is currently preliminary evidence suggesting that the risk of coronavirus transmission is greater in indoor compared to outdoor settings, the potential contribution of outdoor recreation to the spread of COVID-19 is unknown.”
It also adds: “If there is known COVID-19 activity in the community, the likelihood that it could be introduced into an outdoor space or recreational activity is higher.
A notice on the club’s website says:
“If a COVID-19 case is discovered connected to the Club it will be shut down immediately to isolate, contact, trace and treat the case. The club will remain closed until the “outbreak” is resolved. Please be respectful towards the club staff as they assist in the enforcement of these guidelines and above all help you enjoy your tennis Safely.”
In a follow-up email to members, the club said that a thorough cleaning and disinfection of locker rooms and commonly touched surfaces have taken place and that Public Health will advise if further action is required.
“The Covid case, as far as we know, is an isolated case,” the email said.
“The member has not been at the club since feeling ill. Two members that had direct contact with the individual prior to the member falling ill have been tested and we are awaiting their results. Health Canada advised that their risk of exposure is low.
“Please keep following the current safety rules and precautions. As a reminder, no person should come to play when symptomatic and/or while a test is pending (unless it is asymptomatic testing).”
InTheHammer reached out to Hamilton’s Public Health Services for comment on this particular case but they declined to comment because an outbreak hasn’t been declared at the club and they “do not comment on individual cases,” according to their spokesperson.
It appears there was little more than 48 hours between the time the member was said to have been at the club and when the club was notified about the positive case.
According to the City of Hamilton’s website, the current wait time for test results is upwards of seven days, although results can be expedited in certain situations, like, for example, when the results are for a health-care worker.
Last week, an outbreak was declared at a downtown Hamilton spin studio. At the time, just two patrons and a staff member had tested positive for the virus.
As of Thursday, the number of cases connected to the SpinCo outbreak had risen to 72.
This outbreak, in particular, has put gyms and athletic facilities under the microscope in terms of their potential role in spreading the virus.
At a virtual media update earlier this week, reporters pressed the City of Hamilton’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, on this point.
“Gyms are a higher-risk place,” Dr. Richardson said, noting that SpinCo. was following provincial COVID-19 guidelines. “SpinCo’s been an unfortunate case.”
Dr. Richardson noted that they are in communication with the provincial government in relation to this outbreak and have questioned whether or not more restrictions need to be in place in gyms and fitness studios.
“If you’re feeling off at all, don’t go to the gym,” she urged residents.
Photo: Hamilton Tennis Club Facebook page