Centre bans spraying of disinfectants on human body

The Union Health Ministry has issued an advisory, stating that spraying of chemical disinfectants on a human body is physically and psychologically harmful and is not recommended under any circumstances.

The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has directed all states and Union territories governments to ensure that spraying of disinfectants on individuals or groups using fumigation and various other modalities are not practised and implemented for COVID-19 management.

The order was issued on November 12 following the Supreme Court directive passed in connection with a writ petition (c) filed before the apex court, seeking direction to ban all kinds of disinfectants on a human body using any kind of modality, including disinfectant tunnels exposing a human to ultraviolet rays as a measure to prevent COVID-19 infection.

The order stated that the use of artificial ultraviolet rays is being deliberated upon and after due deliberation appropriate direction will be issued.

Violation of the said order will be treated as an offence under the Disaster Management Act read with the India Penal Code and action will be taken accordingly against the defaulting individual, institutes or any authority, the order issued by the ministry added.

The ministry had in April 2020 advisory stated that spraying of chemical disinfectants on a human body is "physically and psychologically harmful" and is not recommended under any circumstances. Even if a person is potentially exposed to the COVID-19 virus, spraying the external part of the body does not kill the virus that has entered your body. Also, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that they are effective even in disinfecting the outer clothing/body in an effective manner.

In fact, spraying of chlorine on individuals can lead to irritation of eyes and skin and potentially gastrointestinal effects such as nausea and vomiting. Inhalation of sodium hypochlorite can lead to irritation of mucous membranes to the nose, throat, respiratory tract and may also cause bronchospasm. Additional use of such measures may in fact lead to a false sense of disinfection and safety and actually hamper public observance to hand washing and social distancing measures, the advisory had stated.

The ministry had also stated that disinfectants are chemicals that destroy disease-causing pathogens or other harmful microorganisms. It refers to substances applied on inanimate objects owing to their strong chemical properties. Chemical disinfectants are recommended for cleaning and disinfection only of frequently touched areas/surfaces by those who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.

First Published:Nov. 14, 2020, 4:18 p.m.

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