This past weekend, players from all over British Columbia travelled to Victoria to participate in the 47th annual Rick Lapointe Memorial hockey tournament. 

However, the tournament took an unexpected turn when several children were benched when they started displaying symptoms similar to norovirus illness. 

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Six players from Victoria contracted the illness within 24 hours, and two teams were forced to forfeit from the competition. The remaining 12 teams were able to compete in the tournament as planned. 

The remainder of the tournament mostly took place in the Ian Stewart Complex at the University of Victoria. 

Island Health describes norovirus as a group of viruses that cause acute gastroenteritis, an infection of the digestive tract. 

Once Island Health was notified, they recommended “measures including excluding from play players who had been ill or had an accompanying parent with illness, ensuring players regularly washed their hands with soap and water and alcohol sanitizer, and regularly sanitizing changing rooms and washroom facilities throughout the tournament”.

The organizers of the tournament were proactive in implementing these preventative measures. Those who took the ferry back to the Lower Mainland were quarantined in their vehicles during the sailing in an effort to limit the spread of the virus. 

Background of the illness

Norovirus outbreaks occur in B.C. communities every year, and are more common in the winter months than any other time of year. 

Outbreaks of the contagious disease are common in nursing homes, daycare centres, schools, children’s camps, and on cruise ships.

Symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or cramps, and low-grade fever.

Anyone who experiences these symptoms should remain at home for 2 days after their symptoms disappear, to decrease the chance of spreading the virus to others. 

Proper, regular hand washing and sanitizing of washrooms used by ill people with bleach, as well as other affected hard surfaces are also important prevention measures, says Island Health.