As NSW and Victoria make pace toward target COVID vaccination rates and related relaxations in lockdown rules, many are considering a visit to local pools in the near future.
Already in NSW, you can swim in the outdoor pool under certain conditions.
So, how can you stay safe and reduce your COVID risk at the local public pool?
Here’s what you need to know.
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Can I catch COVID from pool water?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that “the COVID-19 virus is not transmitted through water while swimming.”
And according to Dr. Sylvie Bryand, director of the WHO’s Department of Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness:
If you swim in a swimming pool or pond, you cannot get COVID-19 through water.
But if you go to crowded swimming pools, and are close to other people, one or more of whom are infected, you can become infected with them. Therefore, it is important to maintain physical distance and take precautions even in the swimming pool.
Can I catch it in the changing room?
In the pool, the most likely place to catch COVID-19 is the changing room.
This is because the main way SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID) is spread is through droplets and aerosols.
Droplets are large inhaled particles that fall to the ground relatively quickly, whereas aerosols are small particles that can hang in the air for long periods of time and travel long distances.
Your COVID risk is higher indoors than outdoors, where contaminated air is more likely to be carried away by the airflow.
The exposure outside is also low because ultraviolet radiation from the sun and high temperatures in sunny areas also inactivate the virus, making it non-contagious.
You can reduce the risk of droplet and aerosol transmission by:
Can I catch it in the queue?
The main risk here is how close you are to a potentially infected person, so don’t stand near others if you’re queuing to enter a pool – or lining up at the canteen for hot chips after a swim .
The closer you get, the higher the risk, especially taking into account the delta version, which is much more transmissible than some of the previous variants.
Again, physical distancing and wearing a mask can help protect you.
Any other tips for reducing my COVID exposure in the pool?
Other things you can do to reduce your risk of infection are:
wear a mask when out in the water
Make sure you check in with a QR code
physical distance from others by the pool
Avoid anyone yelling, coughing, sneezing or laughing (these activities can mean more droplets and aerosols, and therefore greater risk)
Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60% alcohol) before touching your face or food
If possible, avoid public transport. If necessary, wear a mask by maintaining physical distance from others and if possible, open the window in the bus.
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