Friday, March 1, 2024

China wants to eradicate COVID with disinfectant

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Cole Hanson
Cole Hanson
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They spray everything from streets to apartments to pets: In China, disinfection services are dumping tons of chemicals in the hope of eradicating the coronavirus, despite the dubious effect of fighting the epidemic.

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China, where COVID-19 was initially detected at the end of 2019, has seen a rebound since the start of the year with the Omicron variant, which confined entire cities to it, starting with more populous Shanghai.

France Press agency

In the Zero COVID strategy’s arsenal, disinfecting surfaces is part of a “well-placed offensive” against the virus, as a local official there explained in early May.

In videos posted online, we can see employees in full suits spraying apartments whose residents have been placed in quarantine.

France Press agency

Furniture, clothing, and food: No personal belongings escaped from drops of disinfectant in the dwelling whose residents had to leave the key for this purpose before leaving.

Outside, the cleansing wave is dripping down sidewalks, building walls, and even gardens.

France Press agency

But in the opinion of experts interviewed by AFP, these efforts are futile in the face of a virus that spreads mainly through the air when coughing or sneezing.

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“Large disinfection is not necessary because infection by touching contaminated surfaces is not an important route of transmission,” notes Yanzhong Huang, a public health specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Not enough to discourage the “dabai”, or “tall white”, personnel in protective gear responsible for the task.

Shanghai, which has been confined since the beginning of April, has disinfected at least 13,000 apartment complexes as of May 2, or 140 million square metres, Vice Mayor Liu Dio said.

The communist regime’s zero-COVID strategy, despite its cost to the economy and public liberties, is increasingly contested by residents in Shanghai who complain they cannot see an end to it.

Forced cleansing does not help. One resident, who asked not to be named, told AFP that his residence had been disinfected twice after returning from quarantine.

Each time, her family had to wait at the door for an hour.

France Press agency

Specialists question the usefulness of these measures.

While the virus can occasionally be transmitted through contaminated surfaces, it “does not live long outside the human body,” Huang notes.

On the other hand, he notes that “the disproportionate use of chemicals such as chlorine can have a negative impact on health and the environment.”

For infectious disease specialist Leung Ho Nam, of Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital in Singapore, external disinfection “has absolutely no benefit”.

“It’s like drawing the legs of a snake,” he says, quoting a Chinese proverb.

China boasts limited COVID deaths so far, unlike the carnage recorded in Western countries. The communist regime sees this as evidence of the superiority of its authoritarian model.

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Clearing both the interior and exterior surfaces may have a political motive above all else, Dr. Leung speculates.

France Press agency

He believes it is a “highly visible intervention that satisfies senior officials” even if it narrowly reduces the spread of COVID.

Yanzhong Huang emphasizes work that also shows everyone the determination of the communist force to eradicate the virus.

“It gives the image of a heroic battle against an invisible enemy.”

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