The Kelowna Rockets have been shut down for at least two weeks following multiple COVID-19 cases among players and staff.
The Western Hockey League said on Wednesday (March 31) that four players and two staffers have tested positive for the disease, which has led the league to suspend all team activities for at least 14 days. The six positive tests follow two previous cases among team staff — a case reported on March 30 that led to the postponement of that night’s Kamloops-Kelowna game and a case on March 19, before the 24-game season began.
In accordance with the WHL’s return to play protocol, the WHL issued instructions to the Rockets on March 30, including the following actions as a result of the positive tests:
• Players and hockey staff were immediately isolated and tested;
• B.C. health officials have been contacted by the WHL;
• All close contacts have been instructed to self-quarantine and monitor symptoms for 14 days;
ª The Rockets will be assisting B.C. health officials with contact tracing.
As a result of the suspension of activities for Kelowna, a number of B.C. Division games have been postponed:
• March 30: Kamloops vs. Kelowna (in Kelowna)
• March 31: Vancouver vs. Prince George (in Kamloops)
• April 2: Kelowna vs. Prince George (in Kamloops)
• April 3: Kelowna vs, Victoria (in Kamloops)
• April 5: Vancouver vs. Kelowna (in Kelowna)
• April 7: Kelowna vs. Kamloops (in Kamloops)
• April 10: Prince George vs. Kelowna (in Kelowna)
• April 12: Victoria vs. Kelowna (in Kelowna)
• April 13: Kelowna vs. Vancouver (in Kamloops)
• April 15: Kamloops vs. Kelowna (in Kelowna)
The league said the March 31 game between Vancouver and Prince George has been postponed out of an abundance of caution.
The WHL said all other test results from the other participating team cohorts in the hub centres have come back negative.
Due to the pandemic, the WHL is playing a truncated season, with teams in B.C. playing one another only, as are teams in the U.S. and teams on the Prairies (Alberta and Saskatchewan and Manitoba).
There has been no word on whether the 24-game season will be followed by playoffs.
Kelowna and Victoria are based in Kelowna, while Kamloops is home to the Blazers, the Prince George Cougars and the Vancouver Giants. All games are being played in Kamloops and Kelowna.