Four UVic rugby team members diagnosed with highly contagious Omicron variant


Wallace Field, home of the University of Victoria Vikes rugby programs, is on lockdown and so are some of its players.

“Some of the more recent cases are related to players varsity rugby players that have tested positive for Omicron,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer.

Just over two weeks ago, the UVic rugby team took on UBC in a snowy Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship gold medal game in Kingston Ontario, now an Omicron hotbed.

UVic walked away with second place, and four cases of the highly contagious COVID-19 Omicron variant.

The championship has led to outbreaks in several other universities across the country, leading to changes at the UVic campus.

“They’ve really tightened up on restrictions lately. You’re only allowed two people in the gym at once from both teams. You have to wear a mask the whole time. You’re not allowed to meet with your teammates right now. So it definitely seems to be not a fear, but a responsibility not to get it, to get over this virus,” said Ethan Boag, a first-year forward on UVic’s basketball team.

The rugby team cluster is part of a wider outbreak UVic is dealing with. Island Health did not offer an update in the number of total cases Tuesday, but Monday was tallied at 124. The Delta-driven outbreak prompted UVic to move in-person exams online.

And while health officials believe the Omicron cases are somewhat isolated, they still expect more cases to come.

“We have a number of more Omicron tests in the hopper, for whole-genome sequencing, so I expect more of them,” said Dr. Henry.

There is however optimism, that this relatively young, highly vaccinated population is recovering well.

“The age range is from about 17-24, so it’s mostly younger people and highly vaccinated population. So that means we’re not seeing severe illness, people are recovering, but it is a challenge,” said Dr. Henry.

All UVic students diagnosed with COVID-19 and their close contacts have been told to isolate at home. Some were sent home with rapid testing.

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Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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