Hazmat-clad health workers spraying mists of disinfectant cleaning homes, roads, and even people is a futile measure against Covid-19.
Experts say that the campaigns are pointless against a virus that spreads through droplets expelled by coughs and sneezes.
The sight of spraying mists of disinfectant has become one of the most visual expressions of China’s zero-covid policy.
Due to the fact that President Xi Jinping attributes the legitimacy of his leadership to protecting Chinese lives from Covid, this issue has taken on a political dimension.
Personal possessions and home furnishings lie amid clouds of disinfectant; the images show workers misting the city streets, walls, and parks.
Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York,
Since covid-19 infection through touching contaminated surfaces is not an effective route of transmission, extensive and aggressive use of spray mist disinfectant is highly unnecessary.
There is a possibility of covid-19 transmission through contaminated surfaces and objects, but it is extremely rare, Yanzhong says.
However, this knowledge still hasn’t deterred China’s disinfectant sprayers.
Spraying disinfectant in Shanghai
Shanghai’s Vice-mayor Liu Duo reported that as of May 2 alone, workers had sprayed mist disinfectant at 13,000 areas under a policy targeting infected homes and apartment blocks as well as “preventative” disinfection of entire compounds.
The spraying of disinfectants just helps the government justify residents of the city being subjected to a shifting mosaic of lockdowns for weeks.
The totalitarian lockdowns have seen some residents scuffle with police and unleash a flood of anger and frustration on social media.
On social media, videos are posted by the government of hazmat-suited health workers brandishing powerful hoses and spraying clouds of disinfectant on a resident’s bed, desk, and clothes.
Workers walk through streets and housing complexes, spraying walls, scooters, and even the ground as residents wait in line for their covid-19 tests.
Harmful impacts from spraying disinfectants
According to AFP, a Shanghai resident described how his home was sterilized twice after he returned from quarantine, with his family instructed to stand outside for an hour each time.
Public health experts questioned whether this measure was even necessary.
Yanzhong Huang from the Council on Foreign Relations noted that although surfaces can transmit the covid-19 coronavirus, “it cannot survive long outside the body, so it’s a complete waste of time to sterilize outdoor surfaces.
Furthermore, the widespread use of some chemical disinfectants, such as chlorine, can have harmful impacts on the environment, let alone on people.
Infectious disease expert Leong Hoe Nam from Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital in Singapore called outdoor disinfection “absolutely pointless.”
According to him, the phrase in Chinese is ‘drawing feet on a snake,’ which is superfluous.
Ben Cowling, a professor at the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health, said China’s refusal to waver on zero-Covid might be driving its zealous use of sterilizers.
“It may have a negligible effect in most cases, but it may prevent one infection in some special circumstances,” he said.
According to Leong, the disinfection drive consisted mainly of a lot of visible interventions that please administrators without doing much to prevent Covid spreading.
However, the desire of Beijing to demonstrate its commitment to a flagship policy was perhaps the most significant factor.
He said the move gives the impression of a heroic battle against an invisible foe.