Monday, May 18, 2020

WHO: Cleaning & Disinfection of Environmental Surfaces in the Context of COVID-19

Click for Video - Feb 5th, 2020


Early in China's COVID-19 outbreak we began to see scores of photos and videos (see above) of massive disinfectant fogging and spraying campaigns in Chinese cities, particularly in Hubei province.
While it wasn't at all clear how effective this type of spraying might be, it certainly got our attention. 
Last week in the World Health Organization's Daily COVID-19 Update #115, the WHO had this to say about these sorts of disinfection campaigns.
In indoor spaces, routine application of disinfectants to environmental surfaces via spraying or fogging (also known as fumigation or misting) is not recommended. Spraying environmental surfaces in both health care and non-healthcare settings (e.g. patient households) with disinfectants will not be effective and may pose harm to individuals.7-10 If disinfectants are to be applied, manual surface cleaning with detergent and water using applied friction (e.g. brushing, scrubbing) must be performed first to ensure physical removal of organic materials, followed by use of a cloth or wipe which is soaked in the disinfectant. 
Spraying or fumigation of outdoor spaces (such as streets, sidewalks, walkways or marketplaces), is not recommended to remove or inactivate SARS-CoV-2 or other pathogens. Streets and sidewalks are not considered as routes of infection for COVID-19. Moreover, disinfectants are inactivated by dirt and debris, and it is not feasible to manually clean and remove all organic matter from such spaces. Even in the absence of organic matter, chemical spraying is unlikely to adequately cover all surfaces for the duration of the required contact time to inactivate pathogens.
Spraying individuals with disinfectants (such as in a tunnel, cabinet, or chamber) is not recommended under any circumstances. This practice could be physically and psychologically harmful and would not reduce an infected person’s ability to spread the virus through droplets or contact. The toxic effect of spraying with chemicals such as chlorine on individuals can lead to eye and skin irritation, bronchospasm due to inhalation, and potentially gastrointestinal effects such as nausea and vomiting.9, 

Two days later, on May 16th, the WHO released an 8-page Interim Guidance (see below) on:
Cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces in the context of COVID-19
The purpose of this document is to provide guidance on the cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces in the context of COVID-19. This guidance is intended for health care professionals, public health professionals and health authorities that are developing and implementing policies and standard operating procedures (SOP) on the cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces in the context of COVID-19.

You can access the growing list of WHO Technical Guidance and Scientific Briefs, at this link.