Federal government urges caution not cancellations when it comes to coronavirus

Mar 11 2020, 8:56 am

The Government of Canada released comprehensive guidelines on how the country can be better informed before entering spaces with large crowds during the COVID-19 outbreak.

While the federal government is not recommending that events should be cancelled, they note the virus can be transmitted through droplets therefore spreading quickly in mass gatherings.

These mass gatherings can be anything from religious and cultural events, to sports games, concerts, festivals, conferences, and theatres.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) recommended multiple risk mitigation strategies which include, reducing crowds or changing venues to prevent crowding, staggering arrivals and departures, increased access to handwashing stations, offering virtual or live-streamed activities, and promoting personal hygiene practices.

“Cancelling large events may be recommended from a public health perspective, but compliance and sustainability may be difficult and may cause significant social disruption and public resistance,” the webpage states.

The best way to assess the risk factors is by evaluating the relationship between the host (the mass gathering event), the agent (COVID-19), and the environment or setting (geographic location) in order to see if events need to be cancelled.

The highest risk situations are people gathering from regions that are highly infected with coronavirus and if the gathering will have an older demographic, as they are more susceptible to contracting the disease.

The government also emphasized that coronavirus can be transmitted when individuals are not yet showing symptoms and that some regions in the world do not have the local health resources to properly address the situation if a potential COVID-19 outbreak happens.

So far in Toronto, Collision — a tech conference which had 30,000 attendees — was cancelled and will now be online in June.

Additionally, a man from Sudbury recently tested positive for coronavirus after attending the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada 2020 convention in Toronto on March 2 and 3.

Public Health Sudbury says they are actively engaged in follow up and are collaborating with the Ministry of Health and the local health system.

Earlier on Tuesday, the band Pearl Jam announced it would postpone the first leg of its tour, including several stops in Canada, over concerns about coronavirus. And on Wednesday, Zac Brown Band postponed select dates of their tour, which was supposed to stop in Toronto on March 15.

And sports games are also being hit, with the County of Santa Clara’s Public Health Department ordering to cancel “mass gatherings” of crowds larger than 1,000 people through the end of March. That decision was made after the recent death due to the virus of a Santa Clara County woman in her 60s.

The San Jose Sharks released a statement on Monday saying that they would “adhere to the mandated guidelines,” which affect their home arena, the SAP Center. That means that the Sharks will need to find alternate arrangements for at least three home games, which includes a match against the Montreal Canadiens on March 19.