The recent outbreak of COVID-19 at fitness studios in southern Ontario shows that certain indoor environments can bring the perfect storm to a wide range of events.
The studio in downtown Hamilton SPINCO, which was connected to 69 COVID-19s as of Wednesday, screened customers, operated at 50% capacity and maintained a recommended radius of 2 meters around the bike. I am.
So how did so many cases come from it? And does it raise concerns about how the new coronavirus can spread in Jim’s settings?
“Sure, this event makes you wonder,” said Dr. Matthew Outon, an infectious disease expert at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal and McGill University.
“If you want to avoid similar Superspreader events, you’ll see where gyms can be severely restricted.”
Ontario and Quebec have recently reopened four weeks of closure at gyms in hot spots for viruses such as Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa to limit their spread.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Ontario, said Wednesday officials are considering guidelines for fitness studios throughout the state after the outbreak of Hamilton.
According to Oughton, gyms and fitness studios have made several strikes when it comes to adjusting for a pandemic.
Since they operate mostly indoors, they are poorly ventilated and patrons are usually not masked during strenuous exercise.
High-impact activities also lead to heavier breathing. This means that the droplets are expelled from people’s mouths at an accelerated rate and propelled further away.
Dr. Andrew Morris, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, likens it to throwing a ball. The harder it is to throw, the farther it goes.
“We still don’t fully understand this,” he said. “But when people are actively exercising, we know that the amount and distance of what comes out of the mouth and lungs is dramatically different than when someone is talking (the usual way). so).”
When people are screaming, cheering, or singing (this is often the case with spin classes where the music rings and the instructor spits out encouragement to keep the participants focused). It can make it worse.
“And if you mix it with a space that may not have proper ventilation, there is a risk of a lot of spread,” Morris said.
Dr. Iran Schwartz, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta, states that spin classes can be at higher risk than other group settings due to the bike itself. Theoretically, a fast-rotating wheel can aerosolize a droplet by flying it further.
“I haven’t seen any research on this, but in theory it makes sense,” he said.
“I don’t think going to the gym is necessarily a high risk unless an individual is nearby and poorly ventilated, but certain things that are fast and have moving parts (or) can be at high risk. There may be situations where fast-moving fans can also generate aerosols. “
But Morris says the real danger comes when people are spitting water droplets in poorly ventilated spaces.
You spend more time in spin classes, usually an hour, and the number of people in your room also affects your risk.
Not all fitness classes pose the same risk, he added.
A less influential yoga class where the heart does not race and breathing is controlled looks safer than a more influential spin class, but not when it is crowded and poorly ventilated.
Dance classes where participants cross an airspace previously occupied by others can also be dangerous in the same environment.
“Assuming the room is relatively poorly ventilated, you would be worried about possible infections in that setting,” Oughton said. “But if you have the exact same room with a good HVAC system, or the same room with windows open, you can do it to mitigate the risk.”
Morris says finding ways to make these activities safer is always better than banning them.
Masks are uncomfortable when exercising, but can be worn most of the time, he said. It also helps to improve ventilation and further limit the number of people.
“If we’re going to succeed, we can’t keep telling people we can’t get these things,” Morris said. “We need to be able to point to something and say,’This is a better choice.'”
Schwartz says frequent manual cleaning and disinfection of equipment should also be considered, even if surface transmission is not a concern as in the early days of the pandemic.
“And for now, I think it’s probably a good idea to avoid spin classes,” he added.
Oughton predicts people training outdoors in new ways during the winter if gyms and fitness centers are considered too risky.
That may mean dusting skates and ski boots.
“I think this will re-emphasize safety and the need to be able to get some activity and fresh air outside,” he said.
“I hope we all have a new appreciation for outdoor winter sports.”
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