The outbreak of severe respiratory illness related to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to have an expanding impact internationally. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides regular updates which guide our recommendations. The latest WHO statements can be found at WHO WEBSITE ON CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID-19) OUTBREAK.
COVID-19 is a virus in the coronavirus family. Coronaviruses in this family are responsible for illnesses that range from the common cold to more serious illnesses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). COVID-19 is a new virus and so health officials are still learning about its impact and severity. At this time, it appears to cause an illness similar to the flu with the most common signs of infection being fever, cough and shortness of breath. In severe cases patients can develop pneumonia, severe respiratory distress, kidney failure and death.
Recommendations for protecting yourself and preventing spread of this illness include frequent hand washing and covering both your nose and mouth when coughing. Try to cough or sneeze into your arm, away from others, or into tissue paper (to be disposed in toilet). Wash your hands immediately afterwards. You should avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness.
Research on respiratory infections in travelling sporting teams suggests that the most likely pattern of spread occurs within a team, rather than from external sources. When an unwell team member joins the team, due to regular close physical contact between team members, the infections can spread readily (Valtonen et al, 2019). Consideration should be given for delaying travel for team members who are unwell.
What to do if you think you have COVID-19
Because the early symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory illnesses, if you have any of the common symptoms (fever, cough and shortness of breath) you should contact your doctor’s office and arrange to have a consultation.
At this time, there is no specific treatment for COVID-19. The goals of medical management are to identify other treatable causes of illness (such as influenza), manage any complications from COVID-19 and provide advice on how to limit the transmission from known cases.
There are efforts internationally to produce a vaccine and to identify if any of the currently available antiviral medications are effective and safe. An update is expected to be released in mid-2020. A vaccine will likely take longer as it will have to go through longer clinical trials to confirm safety and efficacy.
Travelling to sporting events
We recommend that you check for up-to-date travel advisories from the Government of Canada at: GOVERNMENT OF CANADA COVID-19 TRAVEL ADVICE.
On Airplanes: Vigilant hand and face hygiene should be practiced. Stay hydrated.
The European Centre for Disease Control (EDCD) has published research into the risk of contracting INFECTIOUS DISEASES ON AIRCRAFT. While there are currently no data available on the transmission risk for COVID-19 during airline travel, we look to the risk related to similar diseases, such as influenza and SARS. The ECDC concluded that the quality of evidence to assess the risk of transmission of influenza onboard an aircraft is not adequate. SARS transmission has been documented from airline travel with transmission most likely from those who are severely ill or those experiencing rapid deterioration, usually in the second week of their illness.
On Return from Travel: The Government of Canada advises that any travelers from the above countries should be vigilant for symptoms that may indicate a respiratory illness consistent with COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and report these symptoms immediately to their physician and avoid contact with others until they have been cleared to do so. What this means for sports is, if team members returning to Canada from the countries listed become unwell in the two weeks after return to Canada, they may need to be quarantined and tested for COVID-19. This should be taken into account when planning training camps and competition preparation.
Athletes and coaches who are currently unwell with fever, cough or shortness of breath should delay their flight and seek medical review. If you become unwell during your flight you should notify the flight attendants, place a P2 or N95 face mask on and seek medical review as soon as practical on arrival.
Face masks are most effective in preventing transmission when worn by people who are unwell. If you are well, masks only need to be worn by those who have close contact with those who are unwell (i.e., recommended for health care workers). Correct fitting of face masks is most important to their effectiveness. A good resource is the Australian New South Wales Health web site (HOW TO FIT A FACE MASK)
.For more information: HTTPS://WWW.CSIONTARIO.CA/NEWS/UPDATE-1-ADVISORY-COVID-19