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Spraying disinfectants on streets can be harmful says WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that spraying disinfectant on the streets, does not eliminate the new coronavirus and even poses a health risk. FILE PHOTO (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that spraying disinfectant on the streets, does not eliminate the new coronavirus and even poses a health risk. FILE PHOTO (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Published May 18, 2020

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DURBAN - As the Covid-19 pandemic has grown, you probably have seen photos and videos of workers in protective gear

hosing down public places including taxi ranks with disinfectant spray.

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In a document

on cleaning and disinfecting surfaces as part of the response to the virus, published over the weekend, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that spraying disinfectant on the streets, as practised in some countries, does not eliminate the new coronavirus and even poses a health risk.

“Spraying or fumigation of outdoor spaces, such as streets or marketplaces, is not recommended to kill the Covid-19 virus or other pathogens because disinfectant is inactivated by dirt and debris. This could be physically and psychologically harmful and would not reduce an infected person's ability to spread the virus through droplets or contact," said the document.” explains the WHO.

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The document also stresses that spraying individuals with disinfectants is “not recommended under any circumstances”.Spraying chlorine or other toxic chemicals on people can cause eye and skin irritation, bronchospasm and gastrointestinal effects, it adds.

The organisation is also warning 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.

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Research is still ongoing into how long the coronavirus can live on various surfaces. So far, two studies (

first study

and

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