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Aquatic facilities react to Coronavirus fears

Aquatic facilities react to Coronavirus fears
March 8, 2020

The rapid spread of the Coronavirus and the illness it causes - COVID-19 - has sparked alarm worldwide.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency, and many countries are grappling with a rise in confirmed cases.

Governments around the world are advising people to be prepared for disruptions to daily life, while some, notably Italy and China, restricting movement of populations.

Amid uncertainty over many aspects of the virus, basic steps for avoiding flu and related infections - including steps for handwashing shown and avoiding touching your mouth, nose, and eyes are recommended - especially for those using shared public facilities.

Despite some nations closing aquatic centres, splashpads and waterparks, since Coronovirus is an airborne virus which cannot spread through water, using aquatic facilities should not be a concern.

In addition, with water in aquatic facilities water being treated and filtered, a similar rationale applies to standards used to control microbiological hazards - such as cryptosporidium or giardia - in swimming pools.

However, facilities need to ensure users practice hygiene before, during and after using the pool - taking a shower in warm water before and after swimming.

In addition, users need to keep towels, swim wear and clothes into whcih they change in hygienic conditions.

Gulf News has reported Dr Atul Anant Aundhekar, general practitioner and Chief Executive of the Avivo Group as saying the spread of the virus through swimming pool water "should not be a cause of concern".

Locally, the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association (ASCTA)/Swim Australia issued a wide-ranging advisory position in early February following a range of inquiries.

Referring interested parties to the Australian Government Department of Health website and a range of other resources, it recommended that facilities, swim coaches and swim schools include communications to customers on “cancellation and make up policies such as proof of travel to China and or a medical certificate to be eligible for credit or make up classes.

“If unable to provide adequate proof there should be no makeup, credit or refund.”

ASCTA/Swim Australia also advised that staff should be informed of preventative measures and be encouraged to ensure high standards of personal hygiene”, going on to suggest that facilities, coaches and schools should “consult your insurance company for business interruption insurance”.

In Victoria, Manningham City Council's Aquarena has advised that it takes "the health, safety and wellbeing of each person in our community is our highest priority, and this means protecting our customers and staff members."

Since the end of January, the Belgravia Leisure managed facility has displayed counter signage and posters advising customers on our procedure for mitigating the spread of the virus.

This policy includes advising members who have recently visited or transited through China, or been in contact with someone who has visited or transited through China, to avoid visiting the facility for 14 days after their return.

The facility has also advised all of its staff members to be alert to any presenting symptoms of the virus.

Bluefit, managers of the Hurstville Aquatic Leisure Centre in southern Sydney, have posted a message online that states “we take our customer’s health very seriously”, advising users and members that “we seek your support in keeping all members of our community safe”.

The statement specifically advises “any patrons that have returned from China more than 14 days ago and are showing no symptoms are able to return to the facility.

“If anyone in your family is unwell and experiencing flu-symptoms, we ask that you do not attend the centre and should seek medical attention as soon as possible.”

Bluefit have also helped their clients by advising “if this results in your child missing a swimming lesson or a kid’s sports lesson, then additional make-up lessons will be provided to you without charge.

“Additional suspension of memberships is also available.”

10th March update from the USA's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
As of 10th March, the USA's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated there is no evidence the virus can survive in a properly chlorinated and filtered pool.

A statement on the CDC website advises "there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs

"Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19."

The CDC’s advisory note, Water Transmission and COVID-19, can be viewed at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/water.html

About the author

Nigel Benton

Co-owner / Publisher, Australasian Leisure Management

Nigel Benton is the co-owner and publisher of Australasian Leisure Management, Australia and New Zealand’s only magazine for professionals in all areas of the leisure industry. Having established the magazine in 1997, shortly after his relocation to Australia, he has managed its readership rising to over 11,500 and its acceptance as the industry journal for professionals in aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues.

As of 2020, he has launched the new Asian Leisure Business website.

Among a range of published works and features, his comments on a Blog (blogspot) from 2007 to 2011, when this website went live in its current form, may be interesting to reflect back on.

Click here to connect with him via LinkedIn.

Read more from this author

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