How safe is it to swim in the current Covid-19 Pandemic?
Recent data shows that swimming pool water inactivates the COVID-19 virus in 30 seconds! Read on for further details.
There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads through water in pools, hot tubs, spas or water play areas, according to the experts at the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC said “We do know that chlorine effectively inactivates similar viruses, including SARS-CoV. With proper pool operation and maintenance, including disinfection with chlorine and bromine, most experts believe that transmission of the virus through water is virtually impossible.”
Chlorinated pools are considered safest, as they’re maintained and regularly disinfected, which can help to deactivate the virus. The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests “swimming in a well-maintained, properly chlorinated pool is safe”.
“The risk is not from the SARS-CoV-2 virus surviving and transmitting through the water per se,” says Dr Julian Tang, associate professor in respiratory sciences at the University of Leicester. The risk really occurs above the water, he says, from swimmers chatting at the end of their lanes when they’re within typical conversational distances of 0.5m to 1m. This is because the main route the virus spreads is in droplets propelled into the air when a person speaks, coughs, sings, sneezes or laughs.
WE NOW HAVE DATA FROM A RECENT STUDY (12th April 2021) THAT PROVES SWIMMING POOL WATER INACTIVATES COVID-19 VIRUS IN 30 SECONDS
Swimming pool water can inactivate the Covid-19 virus in only 30 seconds under the right conditions, reveals a study by virologists at Imperial College London. The findings, which have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, suggest the risk of transmission of Covid-19 in swimming pool water is incredibly low.
Swim England worked collaboratively with a swimming business and the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) to commission the study and provide context and materials for the research.
The study into swimming pool water was undertaken 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, named 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.
Professor Wendy Barclay, Imperial College, said: “We performed these experiments at our high containment laboratories in London. Under these safe conditions, we are able to measure the ability of the virus to infect cells, which is the first step in its transmission. By mixing the virus with swimming pool water that was delivered to us, we could show that the virus does not survive in swimming pool water: it was no longer infectious. That, coupled with the huge dilution factor of virus that might find its way into a swimming pool from an infected person, suggests the chance of contracting Covid-19 from swimming pool water is negligible.”
Jane said: “We’re delighted to have played a key role in this world-first piece of research. These findings suggest the risk of transmission from swimming pool water is very low, and adds to the evidence that swimming pools can be safe and secure environments if appropriate measures are taken. The findings confirm the guidance we have issued to operators is correct and will give everyone returning to the water peace of mind that they are doing so safely. We know swimming has multiple benefits for physical and mental health for adults and children of all ages.”
SAFETY MEASURES TO KEEP IN MIND
But, going to the pool involves more than swimming, and that’s where the risk can be found. Assessing that out-of-water risk involves looking at several variables. This is known as the “Four C’s”.
• Closed spaces
• Crowded places
• Close contact settings
• Continuous exposure
Your risk of contracting COVID-19 in a closed space, crowded place, or close-contact setting increases steadily as long as you remain in that situation (continuous exposure).
HOW ARE THE HOGARTH KEEPING THEIR POOL SAFE?
To mitigate all of the above risks Hogarth has the following Covid 19 protocols in place:
• The Pool and Spa are operated under Hogarth’s “Swimming Pools Normal Operating Procedure and Emergency Operating Procedure” guidelines governed by the Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974 & The Management of Health and Safety Regulations, 1999.
• The Pool and Spa water is tested by Duty Managers 4x per day and the system adjusted accordingly
• The system that regulates the Chlorine and pH is then tested, adjusted and maintained once per week by a professional external contractor
• To further enhance your safety the water is tested by another, different, external contractor on a monthly basis and sent to independent labs for analysis
• Your Pool and Spa water is not only disinfected by Chlorine but Ultra-Violet systems as well
• The Pool Hall and Changing Rooms utilise Air Handling Systems to remove stale air and bring in fresh air
• Changing Room locker use is spread out and limited to small numbers and must be booked in advance to aid Social Distancing
• The Pool is divided into lanes (minimum 1.5m) and must be booked in advance to aid Social Distancing
• The Spa is limited to 1 person every 20 minutes and must be booked in advance to aid Social Distancing
• Cleaning regimes are carried out much more frequently by staff in full PPE. There are more cleaning products available along with hand sanitisers and clear guidance signage
So, what are you waiting for? Take a dip!