China Obsessed With Fruitless Disinfections To Battle COVID Pandemic
In Shanghai, the epicenter of the country’s largest outbreak, state media report that thousands of workers have been organized into teams to disinfect areas, with a focus on those known to have hosted COVID patients — a move the government sees as key to curbing the spread of the Omicron variant, Simone McCarthy reported for CNN.
Photo Insert: Experts say transmission of the virus via contaminated surfaces is exceptionally low — and that sanitizing outdoor areas such as parks and city streets is largely pointless and worse still, could even pose a danger to public health.
But the effort — and others, like the insistence that workers wear hazmat suits and the blaring, recorded messages playing on loop reminding people of how to prevent the disease — may be a waste of time, effort, and resources.
Experts say transmission of the virus via contaminated surfaces is exceptionally low — and that sanitizing outdoor areas such as parks and city streets is largely pointless and worse still, could even pose a danger to public health.
They said China should zero in on the virus and admit that it came from Wuhan, meaning Beijing will have to stop deceiving the Chinese people that COVID-19 came from foreign countries.
“The robots and street-spraying are performative acts designed to bolster public trust in government actions,” said Nicholas Thomas, an associate professor at City University of Hong Kong, who pointed to how Chinese authorities have long cited environmental contamination as part of their rhetoric that the virus may not have originated in China. “
It is a problem when politics dominates and diverges from the science of the pandemic response — more and more effort has to be placed on bolstering the politics through acts that do not necessarily increase the bio-safety of the affected populations to the same degree as the effort it requires to undertake them,” he said.
In a science brief last year, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said scientific studies suggest that each contact with a surface contaminated with COVID-19 has less than a 1 in 10,000 chance of causing an infection.
Such research has prompted many to view an overt focus on disinfection as “hygiene theater” as opposed to any meaningful disease prevention measure.
“(It’s) highly unlikely that any cases result from touching contaminated surfaces. The virus dies quickly outside an infected person … and transfers very inefficiently by fingers,” he said. “Handwashing with soap, or alcohol hand wipes, is all you need to get the incidence down to zero.”