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Limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission in collective swimming pools

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Disinfection, strict application of hygiene standards, exclusion of symptomatic people… are at the heart of the system advocated by the French Society of Hospital Hygiene to keep the coronavirus away from the pools.

Seized by the General Directorate of Health, French Hospital Hygiene Society (SF2H) analyzed the risk of water transmission du COVID-2 in the water of public swimming pools and their environment, then made un notice the 9 March 2020.

Viruses in bathing waters

Although no study concerning the survival of the coronavirus in swimming pool water is currently available, the learned society recalls that these environments are, in general, unsuitable to enveloped viruses, such as influenza, HIV, or viruses from the coronavirus family, while so-called “naked” viruses can survive for several days in water, even when treated. The majority of epidemics observed in swimming pools are caused by viruses enteric.

Read also: Post COVID-19 health destinations: ESPA recommendations

The SF2H also specifies that the multiplication of viruses is impossible in the environment. In a swimming pool, their presence therefore only results from a direct contamination by bathers (saliva, mucus, vomit or faecal discharge). In this case, transmission occurs mainly through ingestion, by "drinking from the cup", but can also be carried out via the ocular mucous membranes or damaged skin.

Scrupulously follow sanitary and hygienic standards

To avoid the risk of water transmission of COVID-19 in the spaces of a collective swimming pool, several Recommendations are so formulated.

Le compliance with the public health code intended to control microbiological hazards in public swimming pools is essential. The water should be filtered and treated with a suitable disinfectant to meet physical, chemical and microbiological standards. The instantaneous maximum attendance shall not exceed three people for 2 m² of open-air body of water and one person per square meter of covered body of water.

It is also necessary that individual hygiene behaviors bathers are exemplary. The operators will thus ensure that they follow the rules relating to the use of caps, showers or footbaths. Anyone presenting respiratory or digestive signs will see its access limited. Finally, it is important to remember and invite, outside the basins, to respect the barrier gestures.

© David Mark - Pixabay

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