The heat did not wait for summer to arrive to raise the thermometers with everything. That is why not even people seem to be in the mood to wait for the pandemic to pass before they fall into a pool. To the point: is there any harm in cooling your head like that? “In the water, what is the risk of taking covid-19?”, Repeats my question to infectologist Eliana Bicudo, from Brasília. “Almost none,” says the doctor, who is a technical advisor to SBI (Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases). “Chlorine does not give the virus a chance to stay there.”
It is different from what happens with some intestinal viruses and bacteria that cause diarrhea, which sometimes swim in swimming pools. In fact, upper airway infections have extremely low transmission in chlorinated water.
And it is not only because the viruses that cause these respiratory infections are exterminated by chlorine – a substance so efficient in this mission that we use hypochlorite solution to disinfect surfaces even in hospitals. There is, however, something more: the body itself, when moving immersed, is being washed all the time by chlorinated water, as if doing an asepsis.
Therefore, once a person has jumped into the pool, he does not catch the flu or a legitimate cold just because someone sneezed or coughed in the neighboring lane. Nor is it likely to catch covid-19, even if another weekend swimmer is infected, since the new coronavirus is part of this group, which first attacks the nose, throat …
But, if you are already excited to wear your bikini or shorts when you know about this security, read some more lines. “There is a beautiful difference between talking about the risk of a person becoming infected with the new coronavirus by diving into the water and the risk of catching covid-19 going to the pool”, points out Eliana Bicudo.
Okay, I admit, it looks the same, but it really isn’t. The doctor puts the drops in the “is”. “Saying that you are going to a pool is not like saying that you are going to take a shower or get into the bathtub. Now, in general you get ready to go, combine with other family and friends, allow your children to play freely among other people … And we know well that any agglomeration favors the transmission of the disease. Let us not be fooled: the risk of social interaction is still high “, he warns. Yes, this is the cold water bath.
Swimsuit, slipper, towel and mask
The recommendation of the doctor, of the SBI that she advises and that of all international entities, including the American CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is the same: everyone agrees that, for a swimming pool to open to the public in the season. Sars-Cov 2, it is necessary to require the use of masks to anyone staying in the area, whether bathers or employees, such as cleaning staff, lifeguards and others.
“We need to understand, once and for all, that today it is our main vaccine, the most effective way to protect us from transmission”, says Eliana. But, be careful, never go into the water in masquerade – just the fabric gets wet and the accessory has completely lost its protective function.
In fact, he doesn’t even need to be in soup. “If the person remains by the pool looking at their children, for example, they will receive splashes at all times. Then, the mask will also moisten and lose its effectiveness, explains the infectologist.
So, the idea is to use the mask, yes, but keep some distance from the pool itself. Of course, it’s worth taking a few more in your pool bag. It seems simple, but Eliana Bicudo guarantees that this is the detail that people complain about the most: “They say it heats up and you can’t keep sunbathing in a mask”, he says.
Yeah, I can’t. Or, at least, it is not the brand that we dreamed of winning in the summer. But this is the summer of the pandemic.
Distance: diving in the pool is different from chatting in the pool
Another basic rule – which is valid for the pool and for all corners – is that of physical distance. Observe if there is that 1.5 meter, 2 meter standard distance between your chair or your family’s group of chairs and those of your neighbor.
Speaking of family, it doesn’t hurt to clarify, the concept here is not that of inbreeding. Those cousins you haven’t seen since the start of the pandemic shouldn’t be under the same umbrella as people in your core. “The risk only remains low when you maintain physical proximity only to those people who already live in the same household,” explains Dr. Eliana.
The doctor acknowledges: “It is difficult to get children to keep all this distance. But at least the kids tend to spend most of the time playing in the water. And in the water, as I said, the risk is minimal, even because they keep moving “.
Well remembered: inside the pool, without a mask, not only focus on distance. Staying in motion, promoting such body washing, is interesting. Because I warn you: there is no chlorinated water that prevents transmission between adults, if one of them is infected, forming a chat wheel in the shallow pool, with water around the waist.
Avoid indoor pools
“With or without a mask, the risk increases a lot if you are in a closed environment”, recalls the infectologist. And, in the specific case, this is not just about the story that the less ventilated the place, the less safe. Moisture also counts.
“If you are under a sunny sky, the droplets present in the environment that may be loaded with the new coronavirus – chairs, tables, whatever – end up evaporating quickly.”, Describes Dr. Eliana. “The virus then dehydrates. It becomes more difficult to survive.” In closed and humid places, however, you can’t bet on that.
It is expected that the team working on the site – be it a club pool or a building pool – sanitize chairs and umbrellas after each use. It doesn’t always happen. “Therefore, each one must collaborate and take responsibility for their own health”, says the doctor.
She strongly advises you to ask for alcohol and disposable cloth – materials that should be available in these leisure areas – to thoroughly clean before settling in.
“Do this especially if the chair is in a more shaded area, because of that history of evaporation,” notes the infectologist. Ah, guide the children not to share swimming goggles, snorkels, buoys and toys – it doesn’t cost, right?
The best time to do this program
Simple: “It’s when there is less crowding”, says Dr. Eliana. In this race, although going to the pool is tempting on sunny days, the tendency is that many more people have the same idea. So, think twice.
“In the case of condominiums, it may be a good decision to establish times to prevent many people from taking a dip at the same time”, suggests the doctor, giving as an example what they did where she herself lives, in Brasília. “Every two hours, it was determined that groups of residents can take advantage of the pool space”, he says. “Of course, whoever stayed with the noon schedule at 2 pm complains about the strong sun and whoever is released early in the morning complains about having to wake up early. Pleasing everyone is difficult, but at this stage the priority must be safety. ” As they say, here’s the tip.
And the sea water?
Everything that goes for the pool should go for the beaches too. But, in their case, we only have common sense to avoid agglomerations and a pity that the sun seems to have already melted the brains of many people.
Obviously, it is impossible to establish an entry and exit time or a maximum seat capacity, as clubs are – or should be – doing. But everything else is worth it, like the physical distance between people who don’t live together. And, above all, the use of masks before and after entering the water.
Speaking of water, nature did not make the sea with chlorine. However, salt water does not give soup to the new coronavirus. It also makes it hard to transmit – just like, again, that of any infectious agent in the upper airways. It is the mechanism that is diverse. “The difficulty in transmission comes from the fact that she is hypertonic”, explains the doctor.
It is like that slightly salted serum that you drip into your nose when it is swollen and blocked. “Sodium chloride causes mucous cells to lose liquid in half. They then wilt and the nose swells,” describes the infectologist.
With sea water, the same thing happens. And, according to the doctor, this temporary dehydration of the mucous cells – much more intense than that promoted by a nasal serum, which is less salty -, will not favor the entry and multiplication of the new coronavirus.
So yes, the heat is there. And you want to take a dip. As long as you are careful and away from crowded places, that’s fine – life may really be in need of refreshment.