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Covid-19: Spraying booths aren’t safe, Ministry of Health says

Saturday July 04 2020
booth

Tharaka-Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki walks through a sanitiser spray booth. Experts have warned that the use of chemical spay booths is dangerous to people’s health. PHOTO | ALEX NJERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ANGELA OKETCH

Spraying disinfectants or chemicals on the streets, as practised in some counties, poses a health risk and does not eliminate Covid-19, the Ministry of Health has warned.

In a statement released Friday, Ministry of Health Director-General Patrick Amoth warned that spraying people with chemicals through booths or tunnels is not recommended.

He said the chemicals are not designed for use on human bodies and could be dangerous for those with respiratory problems and allergies.

SAFETY MEASURES

“We have witnessed some interventions by counties which are not backed by ministerial and global guidelines including spraying of people in the booths with chemicals,” Dr Amoth said.

Dr Amoth said that the ministry has come up with guidelines on health and safety measures in workplaces which will address the issue of spraying booths. He said the measures that the countries are putting in place including wearing of masks have been backed by numerous guidelines developed by the World Health Organization based on global and scientific tested best practices aimed at flattening the curve of Covid-19.

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‘PEOPLE’S HEALTH’

“When you look at the measures that we have put in place, all of them have scientifically been proven, we have never had any research on booths. We are calling upon the counties to remove the booths since the chemicals they are using are not good for people’s health,” he said.

The World Health Organization says spraying can be ineffective and that the chemicals are dangerous.

"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,” explains the WHO.

"This could be physically and psychologically harmful and would not reduce an infected person’s ability to spread the virus through droplets or contact," says the document. Spraying chlorine or other toxic chemicals on people can cause eye and skin irritation, bronchospasm and gastrointestinal effects, it adds.

SOAKED IN DISINFECTANT

The international health agency states that if disinfectants are to be applied, this should be done with a cloth or wipe that has been soaked in disinfectant.

“The chemicals that the counties are using can irritate the skin, eyes, nose and mouth and the respiratory tract.

Additionally, they can irritate the digestive tract, cause cancer, and can generate air pollution in the form of ozone.

The doses and contact times needed for chemicals to work are not feasible in a tunnel or with a sprayer, without causing considerable harm to humans, and may aggravate the transmission because of damage to the respiratory tract,” the African Union Centre for Disease Control said.

To contain Covid-19, WHO recommends washing of hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or sanitise, social distancing, wearing of a mask when in public places and staying at home if possible.

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