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New measures to enhance hygiene standards at swimming pools

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) will implement a series of new measures to enhance the hygiene standards of its 36 public swimming pools in the coming swimming seasons, enabling people to fully enjoy the fun of swimming.

An inter-departmental steering committee was set up by the LCSD late last year to further strengthen public swimming pool management through closer interdepartmental co-operation in delivering quality services in public swimming pools.

The terms of reference of the steering committee are to monitor the water quality, environmental hygiene and cleanliness, usage rate of the public swimming pools, staff training and site supervision, as well as other issues relating to the management of the pools.

After in-depth discussions on all aspects of the public swimming pool management at several meetings, the steering committee has worked out a series of new measures to improve hygiene standards.

Through a visit to Kowloon Park Swimming Pool this morning (March 29), the steering committee learned about the preparatory work for the re-opening of all public swimming pools scheduled on April 1.

During the visit, the committee also examined the arrangements for implementation of the new measures, and gave advice to pool staff on cleaning work, testing of water samples and inspecting the filtration and sterilisation system.

"We aim to provide quality services to swimmers, including good water quality of the public swimming pools, environmental hygiene and clean facilities," an LCSD spokesman said.

"Concerning the water quality, we have a well-developed filtration and sterilisation system. Apart from tests of water samples taken from the pools on an hourly basis, samples will be sent to recognised laboratories for tests to ascertain the pool water is up to the international hygiene standards," the spokesman said.

"Regarding the environmental hygiene, guidelines have been issued to the staff, instructing them how to clean the pools as well as the surrounding areas.

"In addition to regular daily cleaning, the special cleaning operation will continue on a rotation basis, so hygiene standards will be maintained at the highest level.

"Six to eight public swimming pools in total in different districts will be closed alternately on each week day for the special cleaning operation, which will start at 10am and finish before the end of the second session. The pool will then be re-opened at the third session at dusk," he said.

"Regarding the facilities at the swimming pools, cleaning and check-up work of the play equipment will be stepped up.

"Improvements have also been made to the shower baths and footbaths, letting the swimmers rinse their bodies thoroughly before going to the pool deck areas," the spokesman added.

Noting that public co-operation was vital in maintaining hygiene at public swimming pools, the spokesman appealed to people to work together to keep both environmental and personal hygiene by observing pool rules.

"Before entering the pool deck area, each swimmer must wash his body in the changing rooms and walk through the shower bath and footbath to further rinse his body. Meanwhile, only clean clothing and personal belongings are allowed to be taken to the pool deck area," he said.

"A swimmer who prefers to wear slippers in the pool area should bring along a pair of clean slippers and change them in the changing room. The slippers must then be cleaned thoroughly at a designated area. The swimmer should wear the slippers and walk through the shower bath and footbath to enter the pool deck area."

The spokesman said that a swimmer who wanted to wear a T-shirt while swimming should bring along a white clean T-shirt. The swimmer will put it on the top of the swimming suit in the changing room. Then the swimmer will have to walk through the shower bath and foot bath to rinse his body and feet before entering the pool deck area.

"If a person feels unwell or has symptoms of fever, diarrhoea, flu, red-eye disease or skin infection, he or she should not go swimming and should see a doctor.

"To promote public co-operation in keeping the pools clean, Swimming Pool Ambassadors will be deployed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays to urge swimmers to follow the rules of using the facilities."

After the visit, one of the advisers to the steering committee, the Head of the Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong, Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, said implementation of the new measures had enhanced the environmental hygiene and cleanliness of the public swimming pools.

"Swimmers are requested to rinse their bodies first in the changing rooms and then walk through the shower baths and footbaths. These are all effective measures to prevent contaminants from being brought to the pools and maintain the standards of hygiene. These measures need the whole-hearted cooperation of the swimmers, enabling them to fully enjoy the fun of swimming in a clean and hygienic environment," Prof Yuen said.

Another adviser, a Council Member of the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers, Mr Victor Cheung Chi-kong, was satisfied with the operation of the filtration system.

"A good filtration and sterilisation system together with the regular water sample tests are effective ways to keep good water quality," he said.

Ends/Tuesday, March 29, 2005

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