• Carole M

Swimming pools in COVID-19 India

Swimming pools in many parts of the country are reopening, and Indians can take comfort in knowing that taking a dip should pose little risk of coronavirus infection.

While swimmers are unlikely to contract the coronavirus from contaminated pool water, they are at an elevated risk of being exposed to the virus if proper protocols are not put implemented.

In an effort to socially distance people, all pools in the country have remained closed this summer (AP: News)

Pool water and the SARS CoV-2 virus

Contaminated pool water is unlikely to act as an effective medium for coronavirus transmission. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that the SARS CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, can spread from person to person in water in pools, hot tubs, oceans or lakes.

Further, while there is no data to show how the coronavirus responds to Chlorine, the chemical has been known to effectively inactive similar viruses. The standard practice of maintaining a free Chlorine concentration between 1 and 5 milligrams per liter of water is quite likely to ensure that there would be very little infective novel coronavirus in the water.

Swimmers aren't completely safe

It is important to note, however, that there could be risks at indoor pools from crowds, poor air circulation, and contaminated surfaces such as handrails, according to Ernest Blatchley III, a professor of environmental and ecological engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. The air around an indoor pool is likely "to pose similar risks of coronavirus spread as other indoor spaces," he pointed out in a recent article on Medicine net.

It isn't the water; the problem lies in everything else we interact with (AP: News)

So, while a persons risk is not likely to be elevated by the pool water, the actual issue at hand would be contamination of the air and surfaces in these facilities. Communities and establishments that are reopening pools and beaches, therefore, are expected to institute temporary rules limiting capacity and requiring facial masks.

The government of Delhi has ordered the closure of all pools in the state; the move is controversial (TOI)

The CDC recommends the following measures at such establishments:

  • Practice of hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette by staff.

  • Encouraging the use of cloth face coverings outside the water

  • Educating staff and patrons in the need to stay home upon testing positive for the disease

  • Ensuring adequate supplies of soap and sanitizer dispensers

  • Displaying signs prominently in an effort to foster healthy behavior

For a full list of suggested measures, visit the CDC website.