Coronavirus (COVID-19) – considerations within an aquatic environment

UPDATE as of 17:30 Friday March 13, 2020

UBC is actively monitoring the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and is continually gathering information from local, provincial and national health partners.  At this time, the Public Health Agency of Canada has deemed the public health risk associated with the virus as “low for Canada”.

Due to the current conditions with COVID-19, UBC Recreation and UBC Camps are suspending programs beginning March 14 through March 29.

At this time, some UBC Recreation programs are cancelled due to an elevated risk based on the activities – UBC Recreation programs are running and Sport Facilities are open *.

Specific to the UBC Aquatic Centre, our team has been in contact with Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VHC), the Lifesaving Society of BC / Yukon, the City of Vancouver among other groups to assess any special considerations that may be required for the aquatic environment such as an indoor pool.

As such the following operational and programming changes are being announced:

  • Facility capacity is limited to 250 (inclusive of staff)
  • Effective Saturday March 14 the UBC Aquatic Centre will remain open for drop-in activities only. More specifically, all events, registered / non-registered programs (swimming lessons, aqua fitness, camps, advanced aquatic courses, etc.) and group rental bookings * are cancelled and/or postponed.  ( * Note: exception being training by the Varsity Swimming Programs (men’s / women’s) and the Swimming Canada High Performance Centre – Vancouver).
  • Private Lessons – Spring/Summer 2020: opening of registration will be delayed for a later date yet to be determined.

Facility users are asked to please:

  • Stay home when ill to avoid spreading any illness to/with others
  • Wash hands upon arrival
  • Wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds using soap and water; especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing of nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Social distancing: Keep your distance (1 to 2 metres) from others wherever possible, specifically those who are coughing or sneezing

Preventative measures implemented at the UBC Aquatic Centre:

  • Request that all staff and guests wash hands upon arrival
  • Additional hand sanitizing stations placed throughout our facilities
  • Increased custodial cleaning and sanitization throughout our facilities, with a particular focus on high-contact areas
  • Heightened priority on maintaining adequate levels of pool water chemistry (sanitizers)
  • Additional information and training for staff:  (e.g., Ensure Lifeguards take normal disease transmission precautions (personal protective equipment) when providing first aid and/or performing lifesaving measures such as rescue breathing.)
  • Steam and Sauna spaces are closed
  • Encourage facility users to keep their distance (1 to 2 metres) from others wherever possible, specifically those who are coughing or sneezing
  • Limiting access to facilities to a maximum of 250 people, in accordance with new recommendations from the BC provincial health officer.


Considerations within the aquatic environment: 

  • VCH has confirmed the efficacy of chlorine as a disinfectant and standard operating procedures within the UBC Aquatic Centre are adequate and that there is no directive to change our current practices.  Additionally it is suggested that we continue with the current practice of using hydrogen peroxide based disinfectant for cleaning surfaces.  VCH suggested hand sanitizer stations should be available – we have two dispensers in the lobby for guests.
  • According to an official statement on the subject of  ‘Water Transmission and COVID-19’ by the U.S. Center for Disease Control, there is no evidence that the virus spreads to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified that a weak chlorine solution (0.5%) can be used to disinfect hands when there is no alcohol hand sanitizer or soap available. Additionally, WHO has underlined that chlorine is effective as a decontamination (at 0.5%) for environmental cleaning when preceded by cleaning with soap and water.


Whereas the situation is dynamic, further actions continue to be considered and evaluated on a daily basis in order to continue to ensure the safety of everyone associated with the UBC Aquatic Centre. Additional updates will be communicated on a regular basis.

We appreciate these are concerning times for all of us in the UBC community and our team wishes to reassure you the university’s first priority is the health and wellbeing of its students, faculty, staff and facility guests.