'Cautionary tale': 18 Vancouver Canucks players now on protocol list

B.C.'s provincial health officer says the COVID-19 outbreak sweeping through the Vancouver Canucks is a “cautionary tale.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters Tuesday that what's happening with the team is a reminder that the virus spreads “very, very easily.

“It spreads easily in young people and young people can have very serious illness sometimes,” she said.

Right-winger Jake Virtanen was the latest Canuck placed on the NHL's COVID protocol list Tuesday. Eighteen of the 22 players on the team's active roster are currently on the list.

Vancouver forward Adam Gaudette was the first to test positive during the outbreak, and was pulled off the ice midway through practice on March 30 after the result came back.

The NHL postponed four Canucks games the following evening when defenceman Travis Hamonic and a member of the coaching staff were added to the list.

Two additional games are now listed as postponed on the Canucks' website and it's unclear when Vancouver will return to the ice. A total of six games have been postponed.

A player on the COVID-19 protocol list has not necessarily tested positive. Players who are in self-isolation after travelling or who've been in close contact with someone who tested positive, for example, are also on the list.

The list does not include team staff or players not on the active roster, including those on the taxi squad.

Multiple reports have said the P.1 variant first identified in Brazil is suspected to be involved in the Canucks' outbreak, but the Canucks and NHL have not commented publicly on results of tests since coach Travis Green confirmed Gaudette had tested positive last week.

Henry said she is “not aware” of any of the Canucks' cases being linked to the P.1 variant. She said officials with Vancouver Coastal Health are working closely with the team.

The league's protocols require players and staff to be tested daily. Any time an individual's initial test comes back positive, the lab does a second test on the initial sample.

If the second test is negative, a second sample is collected. But if that sample returns a positive result, it's considered to be a “confirmed positive.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2021.