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Spraying disinfectant outdoors ineffective, can be harmful, says WHO

This article is more than 12 months old

GENEVA: Spraying disinfectant on the streets, as practised in some countries, does not eliminate the coronavirus and even poses a health risk, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned.

In a document on cleaning and disinfecting surfaces as part of the response to the virus, the WHO says spraying can be ineffective.

"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," it said.

"Even in the absence of organic matter, chemical spraying is unlikely to adequately cover all surfaces for the duration of the required contact time needed to inactivate pathogens."

The WHO said streets and pavements are not considered "reservoirs of infection" of Covid-19, adding that spraying disinfectants, even outside, can be "dangerous for human health".

The document also stresses that spraying individuals with disinfectants is "not recommended under any circumstances".

"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.

Spraying chlorine or other toxic chemicals on people can cause eye and skin irritation, bronchospasm and gastrointestinal effects, it added.

The WHO is also warning against the systematic spraying of disinfectants on surfaces in indoor spaces, citing a study that has shown it to be ineffective outside direct spraying areas.

"If disinfectants are to be applied, it should be done with a cloth or wipe that has been soaked in disinfectant." - AFP

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