The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Infection Control African Network (ICAN) have warned against the use of chemical disinfection sprays or ultra violet rays (UV-C) on humans as dangerous and ineffective against COVID-19.
The bodies have described the practice as dangerous and ineffective. It noted that the practice has been frequently observed in media reports and included in local disinfection policies and protocols for healthcare faculties and local governments.
The organisations posited that direct spraying of humans with chemical disinfectant or exposing them to UV-C is not recommended. Its statement is based on a review of the most recent evidence and Africa CDC and ICAN expert assessment.
In its media release, the two organisations noted that tunnels, booths or double gated structures had all been employed to facilitate disinfection of human beings using chemicals or UV-C.
Describing the practice as dangerous, they noted that UV-C and chemical disinfectants were designed for use on hard surfaces, not the human body, and can irritate the skin, mucosa (like eyes, nose and mouth) and the respiratory tract.
UV-C, according to the bodies can irritate the digestive tract, cause cancer, and can generate air pollution In the form of ozone.
They added: “The doses and contact times needed for chemical or UV-C disinfectant to work are not feasible in a tunnel or with a sprayer, without causing considerable harm to humans. It may aggravate the transmission because of damage to the respiratory tract.”
It labelled the chemical use as ineffective. “Chemicals for disinfection have only been tested on surfaces, and here are only effective when they follow a thorough cleaning protocol”.
The organisations noted that there was no evidence that use of disinfection tunnels or spraying of humans reduces transmission of any infectious disease including SARS Con.
“Spraying humans with disinfectants does not treat the virus inside the body. High pressure spraying of surfaces contaminated with COVID-19 may actually disperse the virus causing further spread.
They highlighted that disinfection spraying of the environment is not effective because many of these do not work In the presence of organic matter such as soil or grass. “They do not act on porous surfaces like pavements and roads; and they have a detrimental Impact on the environment”.
The duo further lent their voices on the consequences of spraying the disinfectant on humans. “The resources allocated to disinfectant spraying of humans may result in other key interventions being under prioritised.
Some of its recommendations are: Priority interventions (physical distancing, hand washing, avoidance of face touching, cough hygiene and appropriate use of face masks).
The staff conducting human spraying with disinfectants, they advised, requires extensive Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to reduce the risk of harm from contact with chemicals. “This puts additional strain on the PPE supply chain. Studies show that even while wearing PPE, the Sprayers are at risk of damage to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract”.
“This does not relate to skin antisepsis using alcohol-based hand rubs, or pre-operative skin antisepsis with chlorhexidine, all of which have been tested and are safe if they are used correctly for this purpose.
The bodies added that antiseptics are used on living organisms, such as human skin to kill microorganisms on the body surface.
“Disinfectants are used on inanimate surfaces such as tables or bedrails, and they can injure the skin and other tissues.
Having notified and warned the public against the use of the harmful practice, the Africa CDC pledged that it would continue to. update its guidance based on the latest available evidence.Follow us on social media