Spraying disinfectants on the streets is ineffective against the novel coronavirus and is even harmful, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned. Since the outbreak of the virus in China in late December, several countries have adopted the practice of spraying streets and pavements with disinfectants. In several cases, chemicals are being directly sprayed on people, another practice the WHO has warned against.

Disinfectants sprayed
Disinfectant sprayed on a street Screen Grab/YouTube

In a statement on Saturday, the WHO warned against spraying streets and pavements with disinfectants. "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," the world health body explained, AFP reported.

Even in the absence of organic matter, chemical spraying doesn't cover all surfaces for the duration of time to render the bug ineffective, the WHO explained. Also, streets and pavements where disinfectants are being sprayed are not considered "reservoirs of infection", thus rendering the activity, futile. It has also deemed the activity "dangerous for human health".

Spraying Disinfectants Directly on People

Disinfectant booth
Disinfectant booth screen Grab/YouTube

In several places, disinfectant booths have been installed. In an incident that caused massive outrage, chemicals were directly sprayed on poor migrants at several places in India. The WHO has strictly warned against the spraying of individuals with chemicals.

"This could be physically and psychologically harmful and would not reduce an infected person's ability to spread the virus through droplets or contact," the WHO said. It has also warned that spraying chlorine or other toxic chemicals on people can cause eye and skin irritation, bronchospasm and gastrointestinal effects

It has also cautioned against the systematic spraying and fumigating of disinfectants on surfaces in indoor spaces. "If disinfectants are to be applied, this should be done with a cloth or wipe that has been soaked in disinfectant."

The outbreak has infected over 4.7 million people from around the world and killed 313,220. There is no cure or vaccine against the deadly contagion as yet.