In the past two years, the activity of swimming has become more of a luxury for majority of us who do not have private pools in our residences, as most sports and recreation activities in public areas were prohibited to combat the spread of COVID-19. With the nation achieving more than 90% vaccination rate among adults and is now transitioning to the endemic phase, the government has announced the loosening of restrictions – which means we can now conduct or participate in sports and recreational activities at outdoor and partially indoor areas such as swimming!
With this easing of restrictions, there are many who could not wait to indulge in a rejuvenating swim under the hot sun or simply splash about in the pool with their friends and family. Despite that, this pandemic has made us realise the importance of maintaining cleanliness especially in public areas to minimise the risk of getting sick and spreading germs, and the safety of water-related activities during the pandemic remains a concern among the public especially. The good news is, so far, there is no evidence which shows that COVID-19 can be transmitted through water while swimming, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Although the virus is not proven to be waterborne and is unlikely to spread among humans through the use of recreational water, proper pool sanitisation and safety guidelines are crucial. To maintain a sterile water environment for swimming pools (especially public ones), thorough and regular cleaning, filtration and sanitisation are absolute requirements to keep unwanted germs and bacteria that may be harmful to us at bay.
“Pool sanitisation is now more important than ever to maintain the highest standard of water hygiene while protecting the body and skin of the swimmers, especially children and babies from being harmed by the chemical substances in the water. It is important for public pools and swimming centres to install high-quality pool sanitisation systems such as those from Waterco (a leading one-stop solutions provider for safe and healthy water environment company) to adjust the level of chlorine to the standard that is safe and hygienic for swimmers,” explained Mr Richmond Ho, President of Malaysia Swimmers and Swimming Coaches Association (MASWIM).
Mr Richmond also shared that although the water itself is relatively safe with proper disinfection, it is important to be reminded that there are risks for the virus to spread from person-to-person by respiratory droplets during close physical contact in crowded places. As such, swimming pool operators must adhere to strict SOPs set by the authorities inside and outside of the swimming pool to ensure the safety of swimmers and the operational staff members.
“Staff must be well-trained to monitor and control the capacity and physical distance among the swimmers in the swimming pools to avoid them congregating closely together. Common places and touch points such as benches and tables near the swimming pools, swimming pool ladders and lockers will also need to be disinfected regularly,” advised Mr Richmond.
While the government has set the standard operating procedures and swimming pool operators have taken precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, those planning to go for a swim need to also do their part to ensure their safety and their little ones who are not vaccinated. Just by practising some safety precautions can do a lot in helping us visitors ensure a safe trip to the swimming pool.
- Bring along your hand sanitisers and sanitisation wipes
When we are in a shared space, it is difficult to avoid touching the surfaces that are exposed to numerous people throughout the day. Maintaining good hand hygiene is the most basic yet one of the utmost importance in keeping ourselves safe and healthy. Keep your hands as clean as possible by washing your hands after you have touched the objects shared by all such as the swimming pool ladder. Besides bringing a hand sanitizer with you to the pool, it is advisable to wipe down the tables and lounge chairs that you will be using with sanitisation wipes. There is no harm to be extra cautious when staying long hours in a public space!
2. Bring your own set of swimming gears
When you are having a fun time in the pool, it will be hard to avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth with your hands. Hence, it is recommended to bring your own swimming equipment such as goggles, kickboards, floats and so on instead of borrowing from others. As the virus is likely to transmit through respiratory droplets and shared surfaces, it is not safe to share the equipment that you will be using with people that are not from the same household.
3. Social distancing in the pool
Maintaining social distance in the water and anywhere out of the pool is important in this new normal. While we are filled with excitement to be allowed to take a refreshing dip in the pool again, we should pay extra attention to the distance (at least six feet away!) with the people around us from time to time. You can also contact the pool management team beforehand to know more about their standard operating procedures and capacity limits. With the information obtained, you can then decide on visiting the pool that you are more comfortable and confident with. To enjoy quality time with friends and family (or only for yourself) without worrying about getting close contact with strangers, consider booking a slot for a visit to a private pool for a safer environment.
4. Keep your mask on when out of the water
The crowd is the real danger and a mask can reduce the risk of us getting infected and also prevent us from transmitting the virus. Even when we have been living in the pandemic for almost two years, many will still forget to put their masks on occasionally. Even though you should not wear a mask in the pool as you will experience difficulties in breathing when it gets wet, make sure to put on your face mask whenever you are out of the water to lower the risk of getting infected.
Curbing the spread of COVID-19 requires the effort of all parties. With the authorities and swimming pool operators taking extra precautions in keeping swimming pools safe, we should also play our part and be cooperative when visiting the pools as we would not want to see our most-loved activity, swimming be prohibited again!