Tuesday, March 24, 2020

COVID-19: Water transmission and the effects of heat on the SARS-CoV-2 virus


I am going to be writing a series of COVID-19 posts and answering frequently asked questions by patients. Today's post is about water transmission and the effects of heat on the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Can the virus exist in drinking water?

Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

Can the SARS-CoV-2 virus spread through 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. However, chlorinated pools do not decrease your risk of droplet transmission of the virus (being coughed or sneezed on) and we recommend to practice social isolation and quarantine as recommended by the health authorities in your country during this pandemic.

Can the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 be killed by saunas? No.

We don't know at what temperature the SARS-CoV-2 is killed. Based on previous studies, heat at 56°C kills the SARS coronavirus at around 10000 units per 15 min. Therefore, even if saunas were to reduce the SARS-CoV-2 concentration on skin, thermoregulation of internal body temperature would prevent killing the virus in the airways. This means that taking a sauna bath is indirectly equivalent to taking a shower with soap and water. Theoretically, the droplet spread of the infection in saunas shared by people can occur.

Can the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 be killed by hairdryers? No. It is a myth.

It would not be possible for a hairdryer to achieve such high temperatures necessary to kill the virus. It would increase risk of skin damage and burn injuries due to prolonged blowing of dry air on skin. Please do not blow hair dryer on your face.

What about sewers, gutters, and feces?

The virus that causes COVID-19 has been detected in the feces of some patients diagnosed with COVID-19. The risk of transmission is expected to be low. There have been no reports of fecal-oral transmission of COVID-19 to date.

Transmission of COVID-19 through sewage may be possible, there is no evidence to date that this has occurred. SARS, a similar coronavirus, has been detected in untreated sewage for up to 2 to 14 days. In the 2003 SARS outbreak, there was documented transmission associated with sewage aerosols. Therefore, wastewater and sewage workers should use standard practices, practice basic hygiene precautions, and wear personal protective equipment.

Water Transmission and COVID-19

First data on stability and resistance of SARS coronavirus compiled by members of the WHO laboratory network 

Please stay safe and take this seriously.


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