Although many of us are dying to cool off the scorching summer heat in the pool, countries around the globe are closing public pools altogether. This is due to the alarming spread of the infamous coronavirus, which has started to become a part of our routine in this strange new reality. People are rightfully concerned with the quick spread of the virus and want to keep themselves as safe as they can – even if it means storing away the floaties until next year. What is so worrisome about pools? Why do they need to be shut down for the time being? We’re here to explain.
“Don’t pools have chlorine?” Yes, they do.
Chlorine is added to pool water in order to kill bacteria and viruses. The chlorine and the pool water mixed together create a sort of weak acid (hypochlorous acid – try saying that fast three times in a row!). This acid kills bacteria and viruses which can cause human diseases. SARS COV 2 is eliminated from surfaces with chlorine, yet there is no proof that coronavirus is eliminated in chlorinated pool water. However, this data suggests that SARS COV 2 will be inactivated in chlorinated pool water. So, what does this mean? Theoretically speaking, the chlorine inside the swimming pool should be enough to kill the coronavirus, if it is present in the water. It is assumed that the coronavirus will not survive in chlorinated water for a long period of time, therefore the chance of contracting COVID 19 from pool water is considered low.
Then why are public pools closing down?
Because people struggle with keeping a safe 2-meter distance from each other at the pool. The water itself may be safe thanks to the chlorine – but saliva splatters and unclean hands are still a thing when your head and hands are above water.
Hold up. Is SARS COV2 transmitted from person to person by going to a swimming pool?
The answer is not that clear. As of today, there is no solid data on specific patients who were infected in a swimming pool, yet the possibility for such a transmission exists. If an adult swims laps and observes social distancing in the pool, the chances of infection are relatively slim. However, not observing social distancing at pools causes the risk of infection to be substantial. If public pools are still open where you live and you’re dying to go, do your best to avoid touching your face, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water often, and practice social distancing to the best of your capabilities.
Have a safe and chilly summer!