By SALIHU, Shola Taofeek
Let me firstly commend the readiness, zeal and several efforts of the state government in the fight against the pandemic ravaging and bringing down even the most powerful and advanced countries in the world. Likewise, I must not fail to appreciate our health workers at the frontline who risk everything to keep us safe. Kudos, you are our heros!
Recently, the Kwara governor’s spokesperson, Rafiu Ajakaye announced that the government would commence the disinfection and decontamination of some selected places across Ilorin on Saturday. Labeled as part of its effort in combating the novel coronavirus in the state, it is coming weeks after the first fumigation of public places in the state.
Photos from the areas hardest hit by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has told a story of disinfection. Trucks spraying streets and a phalanx of sanitation workers wearing backpack tanks fogging sidewalks, parks, and plazas in China, Iran, United States, Italy, and elsewhere. But in a state like Kwara with a minimal spread of the virus, is fumigation the most effective way to prevent exposure to the virus?
Like other coronaviruses, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, which causes COVID-19, is thought to spread most commonly through invisible respiratory droplets sent into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Those droplets could be inhaled by nearby people or land on surfaces that others might touch and get infected when they touch their eyes, nose, or mouth within a period of time.
An ordinary Microbiologist who hasn’t traveled wide to garner enough experiences on virology would tell that spraying disinfectants over a large area and repeatedly may cause environmental pollution and cound have very limited effect in curbing the spread of the virus.
Though, I’m not saying disinfectant like Sensol Disinfectants S003, SanoClean AR, S006, S010 and S015 has no effect on coronavirus – being an enveloped virus. However spraying everywhere to sterilize sites and people from coronavirus can’t effectively protect humans from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Our medical experts who are advising the governor should also take note that coronavirus like other virus cannot survive days on inanimate surfaces, as several researches have shown. Without wasting resources to fumigate the streets and roads, the virus would die a natural death if it couldn’t get into a living host within a space of hours thereby professing the idea of fumigating as good as unnecessary spending.
While chemical fumigation has been used effectively in other areas, such as building decontamination after bioterrorism events, in agriculture, and in residential structures, there have been incidents where fumigants have escaped, causing illness and death to exposed workers and the public. Before expanding the use of a potentially hazardous technology in areas where there are vulnerable individuals, it is important to fully weigh benefits and risks.
Nevertheless, limited fumigation of hospital premises and environment open to the virus – like seen in high risk countries – is still reasonable to control infections.
COVID-19 may be transmitted from person to person, most commonly in close contacts (within about six feet range), via respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes. Due to the tenacity of the virus, it is possible that a person can acquire COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface or object, and then touching either of mouth, nose, or eyes.
So, what’s the best path forward? Given that person-to-person contact appears the most likely route of transmission for COVID-19, I would advise the government to intensify focus on sensitization, especially in the area of facemask usage and washing of hands regularly.
Pathologists have recommended regular washing of hands with soap and running water to be the most effective way to protect self from the virus.
Aside from washing hands, people can also avoid COVID-19 transmission by not touching the face, immediately taking a bath after an outdoor activity; washing clothes with detergent and using an ironing spray with hydrochlorite disinfectant; use of alcohol based sanitizer incase water and detergent aren’t accessible; and practicing personal hygiene.
Stay home if you are sick, reduce close contact with others, make sure to cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough, and wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. “As simple as it sounds, it works.” – this shold be spread to our streets, and not chemicals.
SALIHU, Shola Taofeek is a Microbiologist with certifications in Journalism. His area of specialization is focused on health and medical reports. He is a cartoonist and the CEO and Publisher of THE INFORMANT247.