Thursday Apr 16, 2020
Countries and organisations have been ramping up efforts and adopting several measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic — the installation of walk-through disinfectant gates being one of them.
In this regard, the World Health Organisation has said that spraying disinfectants cannot harm the virus that has already entered the human body. In fact, it can have adverse effects.
The WHO, on its website, said: “Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body.”
“Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e., eyes, mouth). Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations,” it said.
It is pertinent to mention here that, sodium hypochlorite is the main disinfectant used in these anti-viral tunnels.
A research paper published in 2016 titled 'Deliberate exposure of humans to chlorine — the aftermath of Ebola in West Africa by Shaheen Mehtar, Andre N. H. Bulabula, Haurace Nyandemoh and Steve Jambawai', said: “Reported exposure to chlorine has usually been accidental. Despite the lack of evidence as a recognised outbreak control measure, deliberate exposure of humans to chlorine spray was wide spread in Africa during the Ebola epidemic resulting in serious detrimental health effects on humans.”
The paper strongly recommend that this practice be banned and alternative safer methods be used.
According to The Hindu, Dr. J.S Thakur, a doctor based in India, has said: “Exposure to stronger concentration (10-15%) of hypochlorite can cause serious damage to multiple organs, including burning pain, redness, swelling and blisters, damage to the respiratory tract as well as the oesophagus, serious eye damage, stomach ache, a burning sensation, diarrhea, and vomiting.”
“The use of these tunnels may give a false sense of security and may have adverse health effects as sodium hypochlorite has a lot of harmful effects on the human body," said Dr Thakur.
Speaking to Geo.tv, Sindh Young Doctors Association (YDA Sindh) Chairperson Dr Umer Sultan said that the disinfectant tunnel had not yet proven to bear fruit.
The medic voiced WHO's concerns and said that "if the virus resides within the body how do you expect it to go away by spraying on the outside?"
He advised people to follow social distancing measures and other preventive guidelines to combat the pandemic.
— Additional reporting from Khawaja Burhan Uddin