Scientists in Spain believe Covid-19 infection from contact with swimming pool or sea water on beaches unlikely

WARNING: The CSIC cautions that leisure activities at pools or on the beach generally mean less social distancing CREDIT: Seryam

SCIENTISTS in Spain believe Covid-19 infection from having contact with swimming pool or sea water on beaches is “very unlikely.”

The CSIC Scientific Investigations Upper Council said the main channels of possible contagion for people using pools or going to the beach, as well as to rivers and lakes, are respiratory secretions from coughs and sneezes or from direct contact with others. Hence the recommendation is to take the same precautions as anywhere else.

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Scientists from six scientific centres participated in the CSIC study looking at the transmission of coronavirus on beaches and in pools.

Their report says that the use of disinfectants, as is already widely carried out at pools at spas to prevent microbial contamination in the water, should be sufficient for the inactivation of the virus.

Where facilities like saunas and steams baths are concerned, the hope is that the high temperature environment – more than 60ºC – will reduce the survival of the virus.

In regard to the sea, CSIC noted that although there is currently no information on the “persistence” of SARS-CoV-2, “the effect of dilution and the presence of salt are probably factors which contribute to a reduction in the viral load and to its inactivation.”

The CSIC does warn that the survival of SARS-CoV-2 in river, lake or natural pool water could be greater as it is fresh and untreated. It advises taking extra precautionary measures to avoid large groups of people.

On the question of the prevalence of the virus on beach sand or riverbanks, the CSIC pointed out there have not been any studies on the matter, but it is of the opinion that the joint action of sea water, ultraviolet solar radiation and the high temperatures sand can reach are elements which favour the inactivation of pathogen agents.

One of the main messages from the CSIC is that gatherings of people and common use objects could be infection mechanisms. Also that other possible ways of contagion could stem from the presence of the virus in sewage which could get into expanses of water where people bathe and the survival of the virus from bathers in the water, on the sand or on bordering surfaces.

The overall conclusion is there is not a great risk of contagion from leisure activities on beaches or in pools through contact with the water, but with the caution that these activities generally involve “a loss in the recommended measures on social distancing.”


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