Besides coronavirus, another dangerous thing that’s going ‘viral’ in Pakistan is the disinfectant walkthrough gates which the experts are calling a complete sham.
Lately, these gates are being set up at the entry and exit points of many stores, pharmacies, banks, vegetable markets, and other public places to make people’s visits safe amid the pandemic. Only, they don’t.
Besides providing a false sense of security, the alcohol and chlorine contents of the sprays these walkthrough gates use can be potentially hazardous for your health.
A false ‘safety shield’
According to health experts, the gates are completely superficial and give a false impression of safety against the virus, which can have serious repercussions.
Using these ‘disinfectant’ tunnels, people tend to forgo the basic safety protocols, i.e. handwashing, social distancing, and other hygiene etiquettes currently recommended to curtail the Covid-19 spread.
Besides, only clothes are sanitized in these walkthrough gates, that too if a person walks slowly, according to Dr Mukhtiar Zaman, the head of pulmonology at the Rehman Medical College Peshawar.
Naturally, the virus inside your body, or on your hands and other covered parts of the body remains intact.
So, if there’s any part of the human body that should be decontaminated to block the virus’ transmission is your hands, which these walk-through gates can’t even access.
A potential health hazard
Busting common myths surrounding the novel coronavirus protection, the World Health Organization has already advised against the use of alcohol or chlorine in spray forms.
The spraying of alcohol or chlorine over your body won’t kill the virus, WHO said. Instead, such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth), it stressed.
Moreover, the concentration level for alcohol to be an effective disinfectant is 70%, the high cost of which is impossible to match for the owners of these walkthrough gates.
So, to save costs, they resort to using the chlorine (household bleach) for spray solution, which, at all costs, should be avoided in spray forms.
“Fumigation should never be used on people. It is meant for inanimate objects and surfaces. Also the chemical damages eyes, skin, throat and lungs,” experts warn.
It’s important to know that when chlorine is inhaled, it converts to hydrochloric acid in the respiratory tract and causes severe clinical symptoms.
“These chemicals will cause allergic reaction and breathing issues,” informs Dr Mukhtiar Zaman, the head of pulmonology at the Rehman Medical College Peshawar.
An expensive yet useless investment
Besides being of no use, these walkthrough gates can incur heavy installation costs.
“This is a waste of money,” says Dr Shobha Luxmi, infectious disease specialist and assistant professor at the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS).
“The virus won’t die. It needs 30 seconds to disintegrate,” she adds sharing that she herself refused the offer when someone offered to set up a disinfectant walkthrough gate at the hospital.
Stick to basic safety protocols
Since walkthrough disinfectant gate do more harm than good, it’s important to stick to the basic safety protocols recommended by global health experts.
Regular handwashing and social distancing remain at the top of the list of recommendations.
Use of masks is also now being recommended by health experts, especially for symptomatic individuals, as growing evidence suggests the virus can remain active in the air for hours.
A combination of hand hygiene and universal use of masks (regular cloth mask would do), experts suggest, can be effective protection against the novel coronavirus.
As for the walkthrough gates, we maintain the same strong stance as does Dr Luxmi: “This is the latest joke being played on the public.”