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Could You Get Coronavirus at the Climbing Gym?

Wash your hands, use sanitizer and keep the rope out of your mouth

The coronavirus covid-19 is having a huge impact on life around the globe and has resulted in over 3,000 deaths. From schooling and travel to sporting events, the deadlier-than-the-flu virus will likely have an impact of every part of social life, including going to the climbing gym.

It’s already had a big affect on climbing, as the IFSC has cancelled competitions in China and the Olympic committee might postpone or cancel the Tokyo 2020 games. There are less than 50 cases in Canada (in Quebec, Alberta, Ontario and B.C.) as of today, but as the number of cases increase, the precautions taken by businesses will likely change how we interact. Fnd out more about covid-19 in Canada here.

The Climbing Business Journal wrote about how climbing gyms can deal with sick guests here. They said: “Very simply, climbing gyms cannot be fully sanitized… The nature of climbing—grabbing holds with sweaty hands—leaves plain the risk of transmission. It’s not panic to admit this as an industry; it’s pragmatic.”

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) wrote in their precautions for preventing spread here: “Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to persons from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented. Transmission of coronavirus occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than through contact with contaminated surfaces.”

However, the government of Canada notes here that you can get covid-19 by “touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.”

The precise lifespan of covid-19 on surfaces has not been determined, but some experts suggest that it could survive for 24 hours. The common flu tends to survive best on hard metal and plastic surfaces, and covid-19 is thought to behave similarly. That means that climbing gym holds could potentially house covid-19 for a short period of time.

Climbing gyms can be petri dishes for germs, so you should already be doing your best to stay hygienic. To prevent sharing germs, be sure to wash your hands before and after climbing, and don’t cough or sneeze into your hands (use a flexed elbow).

Also, use hand sanitizer if the gym offers it. For more on what climbing gyms can do to help keep climbers clean, visit here.