There are now 18 players on the Canucks’ active roster on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.

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When Jake Virtanen was added to the NHL’s protocol list for the coronavirus Tuesday, the number of afflicted Vancouver Canucks on the active roster grew to 18.

Add three infected coaches, two unnamed compromised players on the taxi squad, and the escalating numbers have led to many questions and no answers. How did this occur? How did the P.1 virus variant become part of the outbreak? How much longer must players isolate, and when will the club return to complete some semblance of a season? Or, should it?

Some answers may come mid-afternoon when provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media.

In the interim, the one certainty is that frustration is reigning supreme. Postmedia News was told that one veteran player, who preferred to not be identified, continues to experience significant headaches behind the eyes. He thought he was getting better and then lost his senses of taste and smell Tuesday.

Nils Hoglander, Jalen Chatfield, Marc Michaelis, Travis Boyd, Bo Horvat, Jayce Hawryluk, Tyler Motte, Brandon Sutter, Tyler Myers, Thatcher Demko, Alex Edler, Quinn Hughes, Zack MacEwen, Antoine Roussel, Braden Holtby, Adam Gaudette and Travis Hamonic are other roster players on the protocol list.

The Canucks have been meeting with the league and plan to address the media at some point.

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The NHL believes the Canucks can finish their season in some manner by citing examples of other teams who have had COVID-19 issues. Two months ago, the New Jersey Devils had 17 players on the league’s protocol list and the team was shut down for two weeks. The Dallas Stars had 17 players test positive during training camp and their first three games of the 2020-21 regular season were postponed.

However, the virus variant wasn’t there then. It is now and it’s a beast.

The P.1 variant is three times as contagious and is attacking the 20 to 39 age bracket, which is the Canucks’ demographic. They were scheduled to play at Edmonton on Saturday and that has now become the Oilers in Calgary to face the Flames. That pushes the Canucks’ postponed games total to six.

According to the medical community, those afflicted by the virus variant can develop respiratory system problems, shortness of breath and inflammation, and the timeline for recovery is uncertain. In B.C., the P.1 variant arrived quickly. Initially, there weren’t a significant number of cases and the thought was it was no more than 50 per cent more contagious.

With the Canucks so adversely affected, they’re now the case study for the variant.

“In the future, if we find other variants, we should assume the worst and clamp down on behaviours and public-health measures,” said Dr. Brian Conway, president and chief medical officer of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre. “We didn’t do it this time.

“Let’s learn for next time.”



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