Coronavirus: Gyms 'high-risk' locations for spreading COVID-19, expert warns

Lucia Binding, news reporter
·3-min read
Gyms are being identified as high risk locations amid coronavirus fears

Gyms have been identified as "high risk" locations for catching coronavirus due to sweat and dampness heightening the spread of germs.

Public Health England has not yet offered advice to gym-goers, however a medical expert has voiced concerns over the potential hazard of sharing workout spaces and equipment as the coronavirus outbreak escalates.

Dr Norman Swan, a physician and journalist, explained that gyms are the perfect place for COVID-19 to spread because they are typically humid.

Speaking on the ABC's Coronacast, he said: "Dampness is a bad thing for spreading germs. You've got these big blokes pumping away and you never know, one of them might be a super spreader.

"It doesn't mean you stop going to the gym, you've got to be super careful at the gym."

He said that despite there being no evidence of COVID-19 being spread through sweat, transmission can occur if someone with the virus coughs or sneezes onto their hands and then touches surfaces such as gym equipment.

Dr Swan noted that gyms were among the "high prevalence areas" from some of the Chinese data on coronavirus.

He put an emphasis on increased hygiene for those continuing to go to the gym.

"You've got to make sure you wipe down (the equipment) before and after use. Don't take any chances in the gym," he continued.

He also advised to avoid using areas such as steam rooms as the coronavirus outbreak escalates in the UK.

He said: "Don't go in the steam room. I wouldn't go near any humid area to be honest.

"Is your life going to change by going in the steam room? No. I'd avoid them for the moment."

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Gym chains have been offering their words of warning as the coronavirus crisis continues to gather pace.

Nuffield Health reassured customers in an email that it was "monitoring the developing situation very closely" and that there had been no suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus at any of their clubs.

It added that Sport England's current advice is that staying active is an important part of good health and protecting against the virus.

Better Gym also issued a statement to customers via email, saying it was taking "all necessary steps to ensure that we protect against the risk of coronavirus".

It's advice included washing hands regularly to using cleaning sprays and paper towels to wipe down and clean equipment after use.

PureGym published a notice on its website informing customers that it has "increased the level of cleaning and hygiene" in all gyms. It ensured customers that hand sanitiser and soap dispensers were filled, and encouraged good personal hygiene.

The coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday.

The number of people with the coronavirus in the UK has risen to 456.

There were 54 new cases recorded in the 24 hours leading up to 9am on Tuesday, and 46 new cases were identified in the 24 hours up to 9am on Monday.

More than 4,300 people have died globally after contracting COVID-19, the prevalent strain of coronavirus, and there have been more than 121,500 confirmed infections.

The chancellor has told British people fearful of the coronavirus that "we will get through this together".

Rishi Sunak used his budget to unveil a £30bn stimulus for the UK as it prepares to be hit by the worldwide impact of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.