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Ottawa Senators player is first NHLer to test positive for COVID-19

Last Updated Mar 17, 2020 at 10:21 pm MDT

The ice surface and bowl of the Canadian Tire Centre where the Ottawa Senators play is seen Thursday September 7, 2017 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — A National Hockey League player has reportedly tested positive for the new Coronavirus.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported a member of the Ottawa Senators is infected, but the initial word is that symptoms aren’t serious.

Five days after the NHL announced it would pause its 2019-20 season, the first player in the league has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a statement released late Tuesday, a member of the Ottawa Senators has tested positive. The player has mild symptoms and is in isolation.

On Thursday, March 12, the NHL paused its season due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, but none of its players had tested positive for the disease until now. A day before the NHL’s decision, the NBA suspended its season following the news that Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz had tested positive and it was later discovered his teammate, Donovan Mitchell, had as well. One member of the Detroit Pistons and four members of the Brooklyn Nets were also found to have the virus.

In the days leading up to the shutdown, the Senators played all three teams from California, including the San Jose Sharks on March 7. That game was played one day after Santa Clara County, which includes the city of San Jose, recommended large gatherings be cancelled after 20 cases of COVID-19 were found in the region.

While this is the first instance of a player testing positive, a part-time employee at the Sharks’ arena SAP Center and one full-time office staff member for the Vancouver Canucks have also tested positive.

Characterized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, the COVID-19 outbreak has led to cancellations and postponements across the sporting world and closed international borders as countries try to slow its spread.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has remained hopeful that the NHL will be able to finish its season and award a Stanley Cup in 2020. On Monday, players previously directed to remain in quarantine in their NHL cities were told they could go home, but to remain in quarantine once there.

— with files from Sportsnet