Can Coronoavirus Spread Through Drinking Water?

The COVID-19 causing virus has not been found in drinking water. Before the water reaches your home, it goes through water treatment facilities which effectively filter and disinfect it. The municipal drinking water systems that practice conventional treatment methods of filtration and disinfection, should eliminate or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that “the presence of the COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies and based on current evidence the risk to water supplies is low.” Moreover, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the spread of COVID-19 happens mainly between people in close proximity to one another.

Common Myths About Coronavirus and Water

MYTH: Gargling with salt water or saline regularly can help prevent being infected with the new coronavirus, and drinking water will “flush” the virus from your mouth.

FALSE. There is no evidence that says gargling with salt water will prevent people from getting infected with the new coronavirus. While it may provide relief to sore throat troubles, neither this practice nor drinking frequent sips of water will stop the virus from entering your lungs.

MYTH: Exposure to sunlight and having warm water is effective in preventing COVID-19

FALSE. No evidence points at the new coronavirus getting killed at high temperatures. Drinking warm water and getting sufficient sunlight has potential health benefits. For example, sunlight is a source of Vitamin D. However, too much exposure can cause sunburns.

MYTH: Taking a hot bath can prevent COVID-19

FALSE. A hot bath will not decrease your chances of catching the virus. Your normal body temperature stays around 36.5 degrees C to 37 degrees C, irrespective of the temperature of your bath or shower. Conversely, a hot bath can be harmful, as it may cause burns. The advised way that serves the purpose of prevention of the disease is to clean/wash your hands regularly. Doing this kills off the virus that may be on your hands, thus preventing you from getting infected if you would otherwise have touched your eyes, mouth or nose.

FAQs about Coronavirus and Water

Has the virus that causes COVID-19 been found in faeces (stool)?

The new coronavirus has been detected in the faeces of some affected individuals. However, there is no evidence telling us that the virus found in faeces is capable of causing COVID-19. There are no confirmed reports indicating the spread from faeces to a person. Scientists also do not know how much risk is associated with this spread.

However, they think that it is low, based on data from the outbreaks previously caused by related coronaviruses, such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Can the coronavirus spread through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas?

There is no evidence pointing at the spread of the COVID-19 causing virus to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas. With proper operation and maintenance (including treatment through disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities, rendering the virus inactive is guaranteed.

With the ongoing community transmission of COVID-19, it is highly important that the individuals, as well as operators and owners of such facilities, take precautionary measures to ensure health and safety:
Adhering to the local and state guidelines that may determine how and when the recreational facilities may function.
It is the responsibility of each individual to protect themselves and help protect others at such facilities, both in and out of the water, mainly practising social distancing and good hand hygiene.
Owners and operators must, along with ensuring water safety and quality of community pools, hot tubs, spas, and water play areas, adhere to the interim guidance for businesses and employers in keeping their community facilities disinfected and clean.

Can the coronavirus spread through the sewage system? 

The coronavirus has been detected in untreated wastewater. However, researchers are not able to confirm whether the spread of the virus can take place when exposed to such virus-carrying sewage systems or untreated wastewater. The evidence of this so far is nil. As of now, it safe to say that the transmission of the coronavirus through well designed and maintained sewage systems is low.

As per the analysis of available information by researchers, standard municipal and individual septic wastewater treatment practices are good enough to inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.

What steps should people working with wastewater take to ensure their safety from coronavirus?

Recent reports say that the new coronavirus has been detected in untreated wastewater. Although the data is limited, no infections with exposure to such wastewater have been reported to date.

In order for the workers to protect themselves from the virus while working in the wastewater treatment plants, standard practices associated with the workplace should suffice. These are inclusive of engineering and administrative controls, hygiene precautions, specific safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) normally needed when handling untreated wastewater.

There are no additional COVID-19 specific recommendations regarding precautions to be followed for workers involved in wastewater management/treatment facilities.

Information and details regarding the transmission of the coronavirus are being reviewed by the health authorities everywhere. Any further guidelines will be available as and when new evidence is assessed.

Taking the recommended precautions and social distancing can go a long way in preventing the virus from spreading further.

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