MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) released an advisory on Friday, April 10, saying large-scale misting and spraying of surfaces with disinfectants do not protect people from COVID-19.
“There is no evidence to support that spraying of surfaces or large scale misting of areas, indoor or outdoor with disinfecting agents, kills the virus,” the DOH said.
It added that doing so may even cause harm and additional health concerns, as it can cause pathogens to be dispersed further during spraying, result in skin irritation and inhalation of chemicals, and cause environmental pollution.
“Everyone should NOT spray or mist disinfectants at this time. Soak objects completely or disinfect surfaces directly to kill the virus,” the DOH said.
When asked why the DOH only announced this now, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told Rappler, “We needed to gather enough evidence to guide the public.” She added that they will issue out additional guidelines in the coming days, saying that the advisory has “nothing to do with being airborne.”
The announcement comes weeks after the government started disinfecting activities in public streets, alleys, and other areas to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Several local government units have initiated their own disinfecting operations since early March, including Manila, Pasig, Iloilo City, and Davao City.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) also began a nationwide disinfection operation on national roads and highways on March 27. DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said it will continue for the whole duration of the lockdown, and beyond if necessary.
However, some health experts have earlier pointed out that doing so is not effective in killing the virus and instead poses health risks to people.
In a Reuters article published on March 31, Singapore-based infectious diseases expert Dale Fisher was quoted saying the large-scale spraying of disinfectants can be toxic to people.
“The virus does not survive for long in the environment and people do not generally touch the ground,” Fisher, chairman the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO), told Reuters.
On April 10, WHO Philippines also said spraying and misting disinfectants does not kill the coronavirus and can instead harm the eyes, mouth, and respiratory system of anyone that comes in contact with the chemicals. It added that the best way to avoid the virus is still to practice physical distancing and regular washing of hands.