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Can Coronavirus survive in sea and pool water and on sand? Scientists reveal findings
10 May 2020 @ 20:21

WITH summer looming close on the horizon, residents in Spain keen to get to the beach or use their urbanisation pool as soon as it does, and northern Europe eager to get to Spanish shores for a sunny holiday, a thorough investigation of how the 'new' Coronavirus interacts with sand, sea and chlorinated water is set to be key to finding out whether normality can resume sooner or later.

The National Research Council (CSIC) was commissioned a week ago by the Spanish Institute for Quality in Tourism (ICTE) to carry out an exhaustive study on these hitherto unanswered questions.

It has now revealed its findings, and a lot of it could be good news – although procedures need to be set up to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Talks have been ongoing about what to do, but nothing is official and some of it seems unworkable – 'shifts' for using communal or public pools could be impractical, and setting up metacrylic screens on beaches has been ruled out as bathers between them would literally fry.

Beaches should be open for general use by the time the country enters into 'Phase 3', the final stage of 'recovery', but swimming pool openings have not been confirmed as yet.

Still, the CSIC's 17-page report on whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus can survive in water, on sand, or even in sea breeze, based upon scientific evidence currently available, should help the health authorities come to a decision soon.

The CSIC starts by recalling that the main transmission channels are person-to-person contact, and through the droplets emitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

For this reason, it continues to recommend social distancing on beaches and near pools.

The institution has confirmed there is 'no evidence' of the presence of any type of Coronavirus in mains water, but that it is possible for traces of it to survive in waste water.

 

Sea water

According to the CSIC, there is 'no scientific evidence' that the virus can survive in salty water, and salt has been shown to be 'an effective biocide', or capable of killing off viral particles.

For this reason, it believes the SARS-CoV-2 is unlikely to be present, or in enough quantity, to pose a risk in sea water, and that the probability of its being transmitted this way is 'very limited'.

This said, the virus could reach the sea through waste water pumped into it.

However, if it is treated properly beforehand, its harmful effects are expected to be limited.

Waste water becomes diluted when it is pumped into the sea, and the salt in the water neutralises it, meaning as long as it is treated correctly at the sewage plant, it does not pollute – there is no need to worry that you're swimming in a giant toilet when you go for a dip off the coast.

“Sodium chloride filters have been shown to be highly effective in deactivating the influenza virus, independently of their subtypes and their capacity to be stored in adverse environmental conditions,” says the report.

“This could probably be extrapolated to a wide spectrum of pathogens in the air that cause epidemics and pandemics of respiratory diseases.”

 

Sea breeze

Given that the SARS-CoV-2 virus enters the human body via others' airborne fluids, scientists researched whether the spray caused by waves breaking and transported in the coastal breeze would be capable of transporting it to humans.

“Neither the World Health Organisation, nor the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA, nor the local health agencies in the USA or in other countries have warned that the virus could propagate itself via coastal or sea breeze,” the report assures.

So, there's no apparent danger of 'breathing it in' just by sitting on the beach.

 

Beach sand

In theory, sand on beaches could indeed be contaminated by the virus, either through contact with infected bathers, or by waste water.

The CSIC says the transporting of the virus via waste water is 'fairly limited', although it could be deposited on sand through droplets from infected bathers coughing or sneezing, or even through other bodily secretions such as urine, faeces or spit.

Read more at thinkSPAIN.com

 



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