Recode has learned the world-tallest swimming pool in China’s Hunan province, located on the Yangtze River, is a big no-no for our healthcare.
A report published in the journal Lancet on Friday found that the pool could be linked to the increased incidence of the coronavirus, a new strain of the disease that can cause massive swelling and joint damage.
The report was commissioned by the Chinese government to evaluate the health impacts of the pool.
“We found that a pool with a capacity of 1,000 persons was actually not safe for patients to swim in, which is the lowest possible safety limit,” lead author of the study, Dr. Zhigang Xu, told Recode.
“We found, the more people there are in the pool, the higher the risk of developing infection.”
Xu said the Chinese researchers were looking into the effect of pool capacity on hospital admissions and the incidence of new cases of coronaviruses, which cause swelling of the lungs and severe joint damage in some people.
Xu and her colleagues tested more than 1,200 pool pools in the Hunan city of Shijiazhuang, and they found the average capacity of a pool was about 500 persons.
However, only 50 percent of the pools tested met that level.
“When pool capacity is too high, the risk increases significantly, which increases the risk for infection,” Xu said.
“When pool density is too low, it’s also the same thing, the virus is also more likely to spread.”
The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Guiyang in Guiyu County, and the hospital that operates the pool was not part of the collaboration.
The hospital did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While the study found the pool had no safety risk, the researchers also found the risk was very high, and potentially even greater, for patients who are already in the hospital, who are on antibiotics, or who have an underlying medical condition.
“The risk of infection is much higher for people who are very sick, and especially for the elderly and very frail patients,” Xu explained.
“The people who have already been in the intensive care unit and who have a medical condition, they’re at higher risk of contracting the virus.”
Researchers also found that patients with more than one medical condition are more likely than others to be at higher levels of infection.
“For instance, people with asthma, heart disease, or chronic lung diseases, the increased risk of infections are more severe,” Xu added.
The researchers also examined how many people who had attended the hospital during the past year.
They found that, on average, about a quarter of those attending the hospital were infected.
“So, if you think about the hospital in China, it has a capacity like 1,500 persons, but there are around one and a half times more people than that, so we know that there are potentially thousands of patients in the ICU,” Xu told Rec.
In China, there are no official guidelines on how many patients a hospital can accommodate, but Xu and her team estimate the hospital has around 50,000 patients in its ICU, compared to around 100,000 in a typical American hospital.
According to Xu, the Chinese health authorities will not comment on the findings because the report was not peer reviewed.
But the results are a warning for other health authorities around the world.
“It’s very clear that there’s a very high potential for the health effects of high pool capacity,” Xu noted.
“There’s no clear indication for how it might influence patient outcomes.”
Recode has reached out to the hospital for comment and will update this story when we hear back.