Can Water Kill the COVID-19 Virus?
The ongoing health crisis across the world has forced people indoors and disrupted commerce in unprecedented ways in many countries. One of the most dangerous and disturbing aspects of the COVID-19 virus is the fact that it is a novel virus, or a previously unencountered virus. While world health experts have dealt with other types of Coronavirus strains in the past, the COVID-19 virus is especially dangerous, especially to older individuals and those who have underlying health conditions.
Health research centers all over the world are scrambling to dissect and study the COVID-19 virus to determine all of its various transmission vectors and discern potential safeguards that could slow the spread and ultimately save lives. One of the most important aspects of viral research is determining the environments in which a virus can survive. Some viruses are adept at surviving in very cold or very hot environments, while others are far more sensitive to extreme temperatures. As health professionals and virology research centers work feverishly to learn as much as possible about COVID-19 and develop a vaccine, they need to know which environments could potentially destroy the virus.
COVID-19 Transmission by Water
Different types of viruses transmit to new hosts through various paths. Some viruses cannot survive on surfaces and ,if expelled from one host, they will simply linger in the air for a little while until they expire if they do not contact a new host. Other viruses are much hardier, capable of surviving in surprisingly harsh environments and spreading through the air, through drinking water systems, and from personal contact.
While it’s possible that the COVID-19 virus could potentially survive in water for quite a long time, the issue of transmission of the virus hinges on the number of particles one encounters. For example, it’s possible that if someone carrying COVID-19 swims in a pool and then another uninfected person swims in the same pool, the virus could be present in the pool water but not in high enough concentrations for the virus to infect the second person. This is just an example and not a hard and fast fact. Extensive research on the COVID-19 virus continues and we do not know everything there is to know about the virus at this time. However, current data suggests that transmission via water seems unlikely based on what we know about other viruses in the Coronavirus family.
SARS and Water
Several years ago, another Coronavirus pandemic broke out across the world, but not nearly to the level of the current COVID-19 crisis. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-COV2, spread rapidly through many communities in Asia. Research conducted on this type of Coronavirus indicates that SARS particles could in fact survive in water for an extended period. Various research centers concluded that SARS and possibly other Coronavirus strains could persist for days or even weeks in water and settled sewage.
The research remains inconclusive when it comes to SARS and other types of Coronaviruses surviving in water, but, based on the data we currently possess, it is not entirely unreasonable to assume that COVID-19 can survive in water for at least a few days. That said, it is not necessary to panic when it comes to the water you use for drinking, swimming, cooking, and bathing every day.
The Environmental Protection Agency of the United States has released a statement assuring Americans that it is perfectly safe to continue drinking from their taps and using water as usual throughout their homes. Even if COVID-19 particles were to make their way into a home’s drinking water, the virus would likely not be present in a high enough concentration to cause infection.
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