Treadmills in a gym
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Amid increased nervousness about the coronavirus in South Africa following the first confirmed case, Virgin Active has introduced new measures – and it’s urging sick members to stay at home.

The gym company is introducing hand sanitiser at all its clubs, and has launched an education drive about the virus among staff, a spokesperson told Business Insider. It is also following stringent cleaning protocols using “industrial grade disinfectants” in sanitising changerooms and equipment, she added.

Read: There’s a run on hand sanitiser in South Africa - but experts say it won’t entirely help against coronavirus

“Disinfectant spray and paper towelling are provided for members to wipe down equipment before and after use in the interest of hygiene.”

“Our request is for everyone to practice good public hygiene, cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing, regular hand washing and of course, if they do feel unwell, to take the usual measures to get better and not come into a club until they’re feeling well enough to train,” Virgin Active says.

Read: How to create an effective full-body workout in a quarantine, according to personal trainers

You are most likely to contract the coronavirus after breathing in small droplets containing the virus – which will mostly reach you through a cough or a sneeze from an infected person. Even if they don’t cough directly on you, the droplets can survive for some time on surfaces, so you can infect yourself by touching these surfaces and then your eyes, mouth or nose.

Given the amount of sweat and communal use of equipment and weights, there has been nervousness about gyms. In the US, share prices of gyms like Planet Fitness have taken a hit on concerns that the coronavirus will wreak havoc on gym attendance – while the same concerns have bolstered the fortunes of Peloton, which focuses on gym equipment for home use, and offers online classes.

However, a gym is not necessarily riskier than any other communal area, Dr. Paul Sax, medical director of the division of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told Time magazine this week. “I wouldn’t say there’s anything particular about people sweating that makes them more contagious.”

Also, the coronavirus-infected droplets tend to not last long on highly-sanitised surfaces – like those that can be found in gyms which are often cleaned with specialised cleaning materials.

More on office hygiene - here.

More on hand hygiene - here.  

Latest updates: Coronavirus in South Africa: 'I'm on the path to recovery,' says first patient

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