FAQ: Can COVID-19 Spread in Water? Are Swimming Pools Safe? 

Can you get coronavirus via water? Here’s all you need to know.

Published28 Jul 2020, 03:40 AM IST
2 min read

As the lockdown rules have eased over time, there was talk of conditional opening of swimming pools, beaches etc. While new guidelines will be issued in August, if the pools do open, will it be safe to go there? Can you get COVID-19 via water?

Remember, it's not safe to visit any public pool or beach until and unless the local authorities in your area have given express permission for it.

Can Coronavirus spread via water in swimming pools, water parks?

As per available evidence, coronavirus cannot spread via water. According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence that coronavirus can spread from one person to another in a pool, hot tub, sea or water parks.

Additionally, proper water disinfection with chlorine or bromine will inactivate the virus. Surfaces in these places should be disinfected with proper surface disinfectants. But if you are uncertain about the disinfection processes of these pools, it's not safe to visit. If the water has not been properly disinfected with chlorine and bromine, it's a hot bed of all kinds of microbes.

Can coronavirus remain active in water?

According to an article in Forbes, quoting two studies, coronavirus can be found in water, but the concentration is so low that it cannot infect you. Also, chlorine and bromine in swimming pool water can inactivate the virus.

I plan to go for a swim in the community pool, what should I keep in mind to stay safe?

According to experts, it’s not the water that is a concern but the presence of a coronavirus positive person in the area around the pool. If a COVID-19 positive person uses the swimming pool, the other factors not related to water can prove to be risky. Physical distancing is equally important in a pool.

Obviously, you can’t wear a mask and swim, but do put on the mask as soon as you come out of water. Don’t touch the chairs, railing on bathroom doors etc and don’t share towels. Sanitise frequently. There’s always the risk that if a positive person sneezes near you, you can catch the virus.

Are there separate guidelines for public pools and other water parks?

  • Check with your local authorities.
  • Even if there are no specific guidelines, maintain physical distancing, wear masks and maintain hand hygiene. It’s difficult to maintain a six-feet distance in a pool.
  • Private swimming pools are as safe as your house.

Is it safe to swim in lakes, rivers and in the sea?

Water in natural lakes, rivers and ocean is not treated, but the flow of the water is so fast and the shape of the water body so large, it is considered largely safe to swim here. In a large water body, even if it does have some virus, it will get diluted. The waves of the ocean will destroy any viral contamination.

But when we talk about containing the virus spread, the over crowding on beaches, river fronts and lake side remains a serious concern, as physical distancing has often been hard to maintain at such places.

(This article was first published on FIT.)

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