Russia's Putin has his own 'disinfection tunnel' to fight COVID-19, but does it work?
The special tunnel has been installed at Putin's official Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow where he receives visitors. Demonstration footage of the tunnel showed masked people passing through it being sprayed with disinfectant from the ceiling and from the side.
Russia's "strongman" Vladimir Putin is protected from the deadly coronavirus disease by a special disinfection tunnel that anyone visiting his residence outside Moscow must pass through, the state-controlled RIA news agency reported on Tuesday.
The special tunnel has been installed at his official Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow where he receives visitors, it said. It has been manufactured by a Russian company based in the town of Penza.
Demonstration footage of the tunnel, published by RIA, showed masked people passing through it being sprayed with disinfectant from the ceiling and from the side. The Russian news agency described the disinfectant as a "fine cloud of mist" that covered people's clothes and any exposed upper body flesh.
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in April that anyone meeting the President in person was tested for COVID-19. According to him, Putin did not completely exclude face-to-face contacts, but minimized them, and they all passed with respect to social distance.
A month later, Peskov said he had himself been infected.
Russia has recorded over 500,000 infections, the third highest number of cases in the world after Brazil and the United States, something it attributes to a massive testing programme. Russia has registered 7,284 deaths so far -- fewer than numerous other countries. Critics, however, question the accuracy of its mortality figures.
DOES THE TUNNEL WORK?
According to experts, there is very little evidence to suggest that the use of tunnels is safe or effective, and most major international organisations do not recommend their use, reported the BBC.
Most experts think that that the length of time of exposure to disinfectants and the level of dose that would be required to have an impact on the virus would pose a significant risk to human health, says the report.
Health experts say that the extent of the risk depends on which disinfectant is used, how strong it is and how long a person is exposed to it, but there is a danger of respiratory irritation.
Also, it is not thought that clothes and shoes play a significant role in transmitting the virus, and the World Health Organization recommends hand washing as a more direct and effective way to reduce the chances of person-to-person transmission of the virus. There is also a risk that such tunnels may create a false sense of security.
On Tuesday, Muscovites returned to museums and restaurant terraces for the first time in more than two months as the Russian capital rolled back more coronavirus curbs despite still recording over 1,000 new infections daily.
Libraries and zoos in the city of nearly 13 million people were also reopening, albeit with limits on numbers. Dentists were getting back to business too and sports events were allowed, though venues had 10% capacity limits.
Kremlin critics have accused the authorities of lifting restrictions too fast to pave the way for a nationwide vote on reforms that would allow Putin to run again for President twice after 2024 when his current term ends.
Voting will take place over a seven-day period, culminating on July 1. The Kremlin has denied decisions to ease curbs were politically motivated.
Moscow began to lift its lockdown last week, allowing residents to leave homes and use public transport and vehicles without restrictions. It has been the worst-affected area in Russia, which has the third highest number of cases in the world with more than half a million infections. The capital has recorded 208,680 cases and 3,386 deaths.