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Can you get Covid-19 from a Swimming Pool?


The Pool Water At Northern Arena Auckland

During these uncertain times, it’s important to understand what you can do to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your family. We’ve investigated our most frequently asked question around pool use and Coronavirus.

So, have you been wondering if it safe to get back into the pool again since the outbreak of Coivd-19? A study recently released might help you feel more comfortable about getting back in the water.

A new unpublished study out of the Imperial College London commissioned by Swim England working alongside Water Babies and the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) has suggested that chlorinated pools can neutralise virus particles in as little as 30 seconds.

Lab test being conducted testing if covid-19 is transmitted through water

What we know is that the Covid-19 is not waterborne. Sudeb Dalai, M.D., Ph.D., an infectious disease physician within Stanford University's School of Medicine and officials at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus behind COVID-19 spread) is unlikely to spread in pools, due to chlorine or bromine treatments used in water maintenance.

The study into swimming pool water was conducted by leading virologist and expert in respiratory viruses, Professor Wendy Barclay, together with research associate Dr Jonathan Brown and research technician Maya Moshe from Imperial College London and project managed by Alex Blackwell, head of pools and facilities from Water Babies.

It looked at the effects of swimming pool water on the virus that causes Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2), to assess the amount of time and contact needed to inactivate the virus in varying chlorine and pH levels.

The research established that 1.5mg per litre of free chlorine with a pH between 7-7.2 reduced the infectivity of the virus by more than 1000 fold within 30 seconds. Additional testing of different free chlorine and pH ranges confirmed that chlorine in swimming pool water was more effective with a lower pH – which is in line with current guidance for swimming pool operation.

Exert taken from swimming.org

Ultraviolet disinfection can be used to amplify the disinfection efficacy considerably against other viruses and pathogens just like the way in which the water is treated in the swimming pools at Northern Arena, Silverdale. Ultraviolet light can destroy the DNA of viruses, bacteria, and fungi, including coronaviruses. Standard disinfectants are effective against SARS-CoV-2 but as an extra level of protection, ultraviolet light can be used to disinfect pool water after the chemical disinfection process is completed.

In general terms, the virus doesn’t live in water, but what can we do to make us safer?

Scientist testing pool water samples

The finding in this research suggests the risk of transmission from swimming pool water is low and adds to the evidence that swimming pools can be safe and secure environments. So, we can worry less about coronavirus spreading through water and turn our focus to around the pool instead. Indoors, in the pool hall the pool air circulation system is designed to remove the air above the surface in turn lift Chlorine particles into the air, which should also assist in removing any viruses floating in the air poolside.

"Chlorine actually is a disinfectant, so the only risk is going to be close contact with someone” Bill Miller, M.D., infectious disease expert and Senior Associate Dean of Research and Professor of Epidemiology at Ohio State University.

There are few no-risk activities during the Covid-19 pandemic, so we encourage you to follow the guidance of the NZ Ministry of Health to exercise caution and mitigate the risks like ensuring you do not share equipment such as goggles and snorkels, practising proper physical distancing, good hygiene and stay home if you feel unwell.

The use of masks is encouraged especially for common areas such as bathrooms, change rooms and other indoor settings, but we stress not to use face masks in the pool, which would make it hard to breathe in the water.

Although access to the Northern Arena swimming pools has been restricted during lockdown periods, swimming pools are one of the safest environments to be in and it is accepted that current water treatment methods used, inactivate viruses such as Covid-19.

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