The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) has conducted a report regarding the safety of bathing in the sea or a pool during the coronavirus crisis and ruled that transmitting the virus in this environment is “highly unlikely.”
THE agency has prepared a report regarding the behaviour of Covid-19 in water and in sand, which aims to guide the government on what measures they should apply for beach-goers this summer.
The report concludes that the risk of contagion is low, although it warns that social distancing should be respected even when conducting recreational activities in the water.
“The agglomerations that can occur in swimming pools and beaches, as well as objects in common use, continue to be a mechanism of contagion,” said the seven signatories of the text, all researchers belonging to different CSIC centres.
This study arose at the request of the Secretary of State for Tourism and the Institute for Spanish Tourist Quality (ICTE), who is in charge of managing official protocols to minimise risk in the tourism sector and will apply this perspective when the approaching summer period.
The report concludes that the risk in swimming pools and spas will be less likely since these use disinfecting agents to avoid contamination by the influx of users which “should be sufficient to deactivate the virus.” Sprays from spas or medicinal water centres also serve to contain the virus, and the report specifies that in facilities which maintain high temperatures (above 60 degrees), such as saunas and steam baths, the virus is even less likely to survive.
On the other hand, in sea water, “although there is currently no data which proves the persistence of SARS-CoV-2,” the dilution effect and the presence of salt are two factors that are likely to contribute to a decrease in viral load and ultimately lead to its deactivation, a notion which the CSIC verified when it compared similar viruses in the water.
The commission of the Ministry of Tourism also included considerations about the sand. “Although there are no experimental studies, the combined action of seawater salt, solar ultraviolet radiation and the high temperature that can reach the sand, are favourable for the inactivation of pathogens,” said the CSIC. It also emphasises that any form of disinfection on the beach’s sand must be respectful towards the environment and “its disinfection is not recommended in the same way that urban public spaces are disinfected.”
Regarding the air on the beach, the researchers warn that the aerosols formed by the waves and the wind “represent a great natural source of particles with which the virus could be transported,” in which a two-metre safety distance would not suffice. However, there has not been any official warnings from the WHO or the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention or local Health Agencies aboard about the spread of the virus through sea or costa breeze.
According to the research agency, the most worrying factor is the presence of the coronavirus in the water of rivers, lakes and pools of untreated fresh water, in which case the coronavirus has greater chances of surviving and therefore precautionary measure must be taken to avoid crowds. Therefore, these are the most “inadvisable aquatic environments in relation to the other alternatives.”