DILG tells LGUs: Strop spraying disinfectants on people

By Chito Chavez

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday asked the local government units (LGUs) to stop spraying disinfectants on individuals after the Department of Health (DOH) and World Health Organization (WHO) warned that such measures are ineffective on humans in combating the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and “may even cause more harm than good.”

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, disinfection tents, misting chambers, and sanitation booths have been placed in various parts of Luzon.

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said “that the last thing the national government needs right now are added health concerns on top of the COVID-19."

He noted that stopping the use of the said disinfection methods on people is the right step since its effectiveness has been refuted by the DOH.

“The most important thing is we continue to adapt as we discover new knowledge about COVID-19,’’ said Año.

Año said that even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States of America has debunked the effectiveness of disinfection practices citing their lack of microbial efficacy and their adverse health effects.

He clarified that misting can still be done on cars, rooms, buildings, and other inanimate objects since the DOH only said this should not be sprayed on people.

“Individuals, however, in full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), characterized as having no external skin exposure, may be subject to misting or spraying before removing their full PPE with careful consideration on the eyes, nose, mouth, and throat,’’ he added.

In an advisory dated April 18, 2020, the DILG secretary advised LGUs to prohibit the use of disinfection tents, misting chambers, or sanitation booths for individuals without PPE in reference to DOH Memorandum 2020-0157.

The DOH issued the memorandum as a clarification following the clamor for the health agency to set the record straight on the efficacy and guidelines on spraying disinfectants or misting.

“We do not want to cause our citizens any harm as we combat this pandemic,’’ Año said.

The DILG advisory states that the commonly used chemical disinfectants such as hypochlorite are irritants to the skin and the mucous membrane (eyes, nose, and throat) and may have adverse effects when inhaled.

Año said the LGUs are advised to re-purpose the materials and staff initially utilized for these activities consistent with the efforts aligned with DOH guidelines.

He added that such materials and staff can be used for surface disinfection, disinfecting of objects, and use of booths for temporary isolation, among others.