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While research suggests SARS-CoV-2 can survive on human skin for up to nine hours, water is a different story. Below, we take a look at some of the myths surrounding COVID-19 and water, drawing on official statements from bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Can COVID-19 Survive in Water?

Is drinking water a risk?
The World Health Organisation was quick to debunk the myth that drinking water is a source of COVID-19. While H2O itself isn’t a risk, it is possible to catch or transmit SARS-CoV-2 by sharing a water bottle or glass.


Is swimming a risk?
While the SARS-CoV-2 can technically survive in water, the CDC asserts that the risk of contracting it through swimming is low. "There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas," states the CDC website. If the virus was ingested while swimming, it would settle in the intestinal tract rather than infiltrate the lungs. While this could technically occur, experts maintain the chances are extremely low and pose little risk to public health. The real danger is coming into contact with other people when visiting the beach, swimming pools or spas.


What about repurposed wastewater?
Using wastewater to track COVID-19 outbreaks has become commonplace in cities around the world. So, if COVID-19 can be detected in wastewater can it be spread in cities that recycle sewage into drinking water? For the record, this practice has been adopted in drought-stricken countries like Australia and Namibia, as well as in California, Texas and even the UK. The answer is no, with all repurposed wastewater heavily treated before it’s sent to the mains system. This kills off any viruses, including COVID-19, and ensures drinking water is 100% safe.


Can regularly sipping water prevent COVID-19?
In early 2020, a rumour started circulating that drinking water helps to keep the mouth moist and prevent SARS-CoV-2 from infecting the body. It was quickly busted by scientists, with clinical epidemiologist Kalpana Sabapathy dismissing the idea as “simplistic”. Rather than infiltrate the body via the mouth and oesophagus, she asserts the virus is easily spread by breathing in thousands of tony viral particles spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs.