Written by Katy O’Donnell, CNN
Seeking to decrease the spread of the virus, Toronto’s Department of Recreation & Sport has reopened municipal swimming programs for the first time since 2012.
Toronto resident Lucy White, 20, could be seen swimming in East York Pool on Sept. 20. She told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota that it is “really emotional.”
A map published this week by the Globe and Mail , Canada’s largest newspaper, shows that lifeguards are now required to ensure swimming pools have lifeguard offices (access to the bathrooms is considered a health hazard), people are required to show proof of identity, and that inflatable pools must be shut off before allowing anyone to enter.
The move is part of the city’s efforts to reduce the spread of the disease through controlling the venues where infected individuals come into contact with others.
Two years ago, the city’s General Manager of Sport, Youth and Recreation Glenn Hanlon discussed expanding the criteria for inclusion back to pools and public parks, and said he was “ultimately supportive” of the idea .
Despite the easy access these types of spaces provide, Canada is also starting to enact its own stricter guidelines, which will allow health officials to restrict entry to pools.
“We had programs going on at the Civic Fitness Centre; (it) was vacant for more than one and a half years,” Hanlon told CNN’s Allison Janney in an interview
Canada Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor told CNN in July that she plans to introduce stricter criteria for Toronto to meet, which she hopes to have implemented by spring 2019. These will include a 10-year limit on the age of children who can use pools and ensuring that there are ways to trace swimming water back to its original sources in an attempt to kill the virus.
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Before entering her family’s regularly scheduled swim with their daughter, Simonette Couquet told CNN that she is “very worried.”
“Whenever I go swimming I always read a lot and I think a lot about things I don’t know, but I’m surprised that this virus isn’t getting its own label because it’s certainly spreading easily,” she said.
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The “Riverside” swimming pool, which covers six acres, has been shut since Sept. 4, but it didn’t survive the last outbreak, which lasted several years.
Fire officials pulled the pool’s lock on August 20, 2016, after finding mysterious boils that became larger and turned yellow in late July.
Scientists are unsure how the Ebola virus was transmitted in Toronto, but sources have said that lab technicians did not wear proper protective gear.
The annual Canadian Homebuilders’ Association “International Development Show” was canceled after it was discovered that some exhibitors were using the Toronto Convention Centre as a secondary incubator and haven for illness.
There are currently no active Ebola outbreaks, but it continues to spread globally. A major outbreak started in Guinea, and the disease spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The virus killed more than 11,200 people before being contained.
The World Health Organization listed Canada in its list of Developing Countries in 2015. However, Toronto ranks as the top performer for scaling back its preparedness for potential pandemics, with 186 new cases in 2016, the organization said.
Last year, Geneva-based NGO Doctors Without Borders announced that it was scaling down its activities in Canada after it received news of an outbreak at a detention facility for foreigners suspected of a crime in Manitoba.