Spraying disinfectants in open spaces to kill coronavirus ‘poses health risk’ – here’s why
The WHO said that spraying disinfectant on streets or open market places does not eliminate the deadly novel coronavirus and can be “dangerous for human health”.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that spraying disinfectant on the streets or open market places, as practised in some countries, does not eliminate the deadly novel coronavirus and even poses a health risk.
The UN agency said that spraying can be ineffective on cleaning and disinfecting surfaces as part of the response to the highly-contagious virus. It said that streets and pavements are not considered as “reservoirs of infection” of COVID-19 and spraying disinfectants, even outside, can be “dangerous for human health”.
“In outdoor spaces, large-scale spraying or fumigation in areas such as streets or open market places for the COVID-19 virus or other pathogens is not recommended... Spraying disinfectants, even outdoors, can be noxious for people’s health and cause eye, respiratory or skin irritation or damage,” it said.
“This practice will be ineffective since the presence of dirt or rubbish for example, inactivates the disinfectant, and manual cleaning to physically remove all matter is not feasible. This is even less effective on porous surfaces such as sidewalks and unpaved walkways.
“Even in the absence of dirt or rubbish, it is unlikely that chemical spraying would adequately cover surfaces allowing the required contact time to inactivate pathogens,” said the WHO.
WHO SAYS NO TO ‘DISINFECTING INDIVIDUALS’
The WHO document also says that spraying individuals with disinfectants is “not recommended under any circumstances”.
“This practice could be physically and psychologically harmful and would not reduce an infected person’s ability to spread the virus through droplets or contact.
“Even if someone who is infected with COVID-19 goes through a disinfection tunnel or chamber, as soon as they start speaking, coughing or sneezing they can still spread the virus,” it said.
The agency said that the toxic effect of spraying with chemicals such as chlorine on individuals can lead to eye and skin irritation, bronchospasm due to inhalation, and potentially gastrointestinal effects such as nausea and vomiting.
In addition to health safety concerns, the use of chlorine in large-scale spraying practices may prevent this resource from being used for important interventions such as drinking water treatment and environmental disinfection of health care facilities.
The UN body has also warned against the systematic spraying and fumigating of disinfectants on to surfaces in indoor spaces, citing a study that has shown it to be ineffective outside direct spraying areas.
“If disinfectants are to be applied, this should be done with a cloth or wipe that has been soaked in disinfectant,” it says.
So far, the novel coronavirus has killed more than 300,000 people all around the world and infected more than 4.6 million people.