Skating on thin ice

Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

By Brenda Steele:

In the Scotsman on 3rd January 2021:

We’re only three days into the new year, but already 2021 is looking a bit more hopeful – especially if you happen to ice skate. The freezing temperatures proved to be far from an inconvenience to ice skaters around Glasgow, who flocked to a frozen pond in Queens Park this weekend to get their skating fix after months of restrictions saw the closures of ice rinks across Scotland.

Further down:

Rinks have been closed since March, so everyone was clearly very excited to have the opportunity to put their skates back on. Professional ice hockey players could also be seen playing a friendly game with members of the public, including Fife Flyers player Bari McKenzie and Glasgow Clan players Matt Haywood and Craig Peacock, who tweeted about their experience.

Well guess what – rinks were closed for a reason

Youth sports have been hit with few coronavirus outbreaks so far. Why is ice hockey so different?  – Dec. 4, 2020 

Researchers studying the game are finding clues about the situations in which the virus flourishes

When a youth hockey coach in Texas died in August from covid-19, Steve Bellemore hoped it was just a chance tragedy. Then the winter season began, and outbreaks linked to the sport exploded.

Massachusetts logged more than 100 youth hockey cases in a few weeks. In Maine, an asymptomatic referee exposed up to 400 people in two days. In Bellemore’s home state of New Hampshire, state officials shut down youth hockey for two weeks to get cases under control and mandated testing for all 20,000 players — a directive that resulted in long lines and other chaos at testing centers statewide.

Ice hockey is an anomaly. Scientists are studying hockey-related outbreaks hoping to find clues about the ideal conditions in which the coronavirus thrives — and how to stop it. Experts speculate that ice rinks may trap the virus around head level in a rink that, by design, restricts airflow, temperature and humidity.

Jose-Luis Jimenez, an air engineer at the University of Colorado, speculated that the spaces occupied by rinks keep the virus suspended, perhaps six to nine feet, just above the ice. Similar outbreaks have been documented in other chilly venues — meat processing factories and at a curling match earlier in the pandemic.

“I suspect the air is stratified,” he said. “Much like in a cold winter night, you have these inversions where the cold air with the virus which is heavier stays closer to the ground. That gives players many more chances to breathe it in.”

And it is not just the young

COVID-19: Old-timers hockey team wreaks havoc in rural B.C. Community – Dec 03, 2020

Dozens sickened after adult team decides to cross into Alberta to play 

An old-timers hockey team travelled from the Interior Health region into Alberta and returned with sick players, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday.

Those players then spread the disease to dozens of people, including family and workmates.

“I’m not going to give them away because I understand and what I’m hearing from my colleagues around the province, is it’s not unique. But I will say it was an adult hockey team that felt it was important to continue their travel and games across the border.”

Henry reported 834 cases of COVID-19 between noon Tuesday and noon Wednesday and 12 deaths.

In Alberta, over the same period, there were 1,685 new cases and 10 deaths. Alberta has 17,144 active cases of the disease while B.C. has 8,941. There are 97 people in intensive care in Alberta suffering from COVID-19, and 79 in B.C.

Nor is the problem confined to Ice Hockey

Large number of COVID-19 cases linked to curling events in Regina — Sunday, November 29, 2020

REGINA — The Saskatchewan Health Authority has announced there is a heightened risk that people may have been exposed to COVID-19 if they attended a number of curling events in Regina.

The health authority said Sunday there has been a large number of cases linked to the events.

Here a Belfast newspaper promotes joining the crowds

Andrew Milligan/PA

In Pictures: Get your skates on!  A frozen pond in Glasgow’s Queen’s Park proved popular on Sunday.

Should they have known better? 

Andrew Milligan/PA

Yesterday afternoon, police attended at the park to disperse skaters after a concerned member of the public called officers. 

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Officers received a call of concern about people skating on a frozen pond within Queens Park, Glasgow, around 12.10pm on Saturday, 2 January, 2020.”

Here is some science which might explain why ice rinks and frozen ponds may not be the best places to be right now.

Why viruses love winter

Winter is a wonderland for viruses. Scientists don’t know the exact equation for transmission risk, but they know the major factors. For starters, lower outdoor temperatures, lower humidity, and less sunlight all favor virus survival.

And one last point:

Do I really need a mask outdoors?

Yes, if you’re near others. Risk is lower outdoors, but it’s not zero.

While there’s little risk of catching Covid-19 outside while, say, briefly passing several feet from an infected person who is not talking, the risk rises with proximity, duration, and activity. An hour around a picnic table with an infected person laughing or shouting would raise the risk considerably.

Here’s the common analogy offered up by aerosol experts: Imagine if the people around you were smoking, and think of the smoke as a plume of virus-laden aerosols. If there’s no wind, the smoke would linger and you would not want to be in the plume without a mask. You also don’t want to be downwind.

 And for around a picnic table substitute standing on a frozen pond.

2 thoughts on “Skating on thin ice

  1. Something I have worried about.
    Occasionally when out exercising on my bike,I smell tobacco smoke but not a soul in sight.
    If exhaled smoke can travel distances,then presumably so too can Covid.
    I need to take my wife’s advice and wear a mask outdoors whether I can see people or not,especially it seems in cold weather.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.