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Coronavirus: Swimming is safe, but social distancing essential, says expert

Beaches and swimming pools are safe because the coronavirus is sensitive to higher temperatures and UV radiation from the sun – but social distancing must still take place, a member of the government’s scientific team said on Monday.

Constantinos Tsioutis, lecturer in internal medicine and infection prevention at the European University of Cyprus, was commenting on government plans to fully reopen the beaches from June 9.

Under the present phase of relaxation measures, people are only allowed to visit the beaches for swimming and in groups of two.

Tsioutis told the Cyprus News Agency that the virus does not survive for more than a few minutes in the environmental conditions in and around beaches and swimming pools – during the summer.

Asked if the virus survives on the sand, Tsioutis explained that tests have proven it cannot linger for more than a few minutes.

Tsioutis reassured the public that the beaches and swimming pools do not pose any risk as far as the water is concerned.

He emphasised, however, that the danger lies in people forming large crowds and close contact therein.

People living in the same household should go to the beach together and even then visits should be carried out in small groups, while avoiding contact with others.

He also said that people should use their own sunbeds, while organised beaches that rent them must be regularly disinfected, as well as umbrellas and tables.

Asked CNA if he is concerned that there are still new cases, Tsioutis said that as long as the numbers remain low there is no need to worry.

The scientific advisory committee, he said, believes there are still cases within the community and a slight increase is expected as the lockdown has been eased.

A red flag will be if cases rise above five per one thousand tests for a few days in a row, he said.

 

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