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Covid-19: bathing water and the use of water from the natural environment

Within the context of the Covid-19 epidemic, the issue of using bathing water and water from the natural environment needs to be considered.

To date, the analysis of scientific literature does not confirm the presence of infectious SARS-CoV-2 in water in the natural environment. The HCSP stated that since environmental control is based solely on bacterial parameters, it reveals contamination from the discharge of faecal matter but cannot predict the presence of infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus.

If such a presence were to be suspected, a risk assessment on the transmission of the infection could potentially be justified for water with high levels of faecal pollution.

The HCSP points out that, regarding bathing water and the surrounding environment, strict adherence to physical distancing measures is fundamental and crucial in the general prevention of infection by SARS-CoV-2. It recommends paying closer attention to water quality, when the lockdown is eased, by increasing the frequency with which bathing water are monitored for faecal contamination including, where necessary, early closure measures for sites known to deteriorate during rainy periods. It advises against bathing at sites that are not subject to statutory environmental control.

Since it cannot rule out the presence of infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus in water in the natural environment, and whilst it awaits new data, the HCSP recommends that as far as is possible and on the easing of the lockdown, water fit for human consumption from the public supply is to be used for sanitation purposes (cleaning public areas, vehicles, etc.) and for the irrigation and watering of urban green spaces and for supplying water to pools and fountains and decorative waterfalls. Providing the population with drinking water must remain the first priority. If this cannot be achieved via the public water supply, the cleaning of public spaces may still be carried out, preferably at night, using previously-used water from the natural environment; however, hoses without powerful jet sprays which minimise the spraying of fine droplets must be used, and the use of aerosol generators is banned.

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