By Andrew Atkinson
Spain’s National Research Council (CSIC) has been commissioned by the secretary of State for tourism and the Spanish Tourism Quality Institute (ICTE) to test sea and swimming pool water and sand to find out whether the SARS-CoV-2 virus can survive in them, and if so, for how long.
This is ‘an issue about which there is hardly any evidence worldwide’, says the ICTE.
Full scientific knowledge of it is going to be essential, before deciding whether Spain’s sun, sea and sand tourism can go ahead.
As Phase 0 passes, and Phase 1 of the Spanish government easing of coronavirus COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown came into force on May 11, social distancing, masks and gloves, disinfecting and hand sanitiser dispensers remain, against another Covid-19 outbreak.
Professional swimmers and those members of an accredited swimming Federation have been given the go ahead to go into the sea, within regional legislation movements, from May 11.
It is not clear how the virus interacts with its environment, in indoor and outdoor swimming pools – or beaches.
Whether it can be transmitted by a person, touching or lying in the same patch of sand as a previous person, who is, or possibly a carrier.
Areas that could be flagged up for disinfecting in sand and sea are a concern for the ICTE, insofar the effects it will have on the eco-system.
Should evidence arise for disinfecting having to take place, potentially harmful for the natural environment, it could also affect visits to beaches this summer.
The ICTE has urged local authorities not to take any action of this nature – until it is able to release full reports and recommendations.
Until data is undertaken, and verified, the ICTE cites the technical specifications for safety measures could change, thereafter on findings.
Procedures will be drawn up for 21 different tourism sub-sectors. Some authorities are understood to be working independently.