FUMIGATION OF PUBLIC PLACES, ANY SCIENCE BEHIND IT OR ITS A USUAL RIP OFF
Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic ‘science and data’ have become the new lexicon in our daily discourse. Science is defined as the study of the physical and natural world using theoretical models and data from experiments or observation. Whereas data is defined as a collection of facts from which conclusions may be drawn. Hence, whenever the facts are twisted data can never be a reflection of reality and conclusions drawn from it will misrepresent science.
In the months of March and April, several media houses bombarded us with publications of disinfection/fumigation exercise carried out across the country at marketplaces, lorry parks, churches, schools and other. The exercise was led by zoomlion, a waste management company of repute and some media houses to showcase its progress as they move on. To the best of our knowledge, this was the first time in the history of Ghana that such a massive fumigation exercise has taken place.
Reasons assigned for this fumigation revolution was to kill and stop/prevent the spread of coronavirus at these targeted public places. This singular act gave confidence to people to continue patronizing these places without fear of contracting the virus. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a mirage. And we shall explain that in the following paragraphs.
After the first round of fumigation exercise, Ghana recorded mass outbreak of COVID-19 at post-fumigated markets, ministries, schools, industries, and other public places. If we were made to believe that this exercise was meant to kill and stop the virus from spreading why did these outbreaks happen despite the fumigation/disinfection exercise? Was the exercise based on science or meant to promote someone’s business and waste our resources? It is true Ghana was not the only country engaged in this this exercise, but the difference is that ours was a one-time and stand-alone exercise reasons why it was not effective.
Chemicals used for disinfection
Methods of disinfection is either by chemical disinfection or by thermal process. In the case of Ghana’s mass disinfection exercise the former was deployed and the chemical used in this occasion was either liquid sodium hypochlorite, solid or powder calcium hypochlorite in a resultant solution of 0.5% of active chlorine (50g/litre).
Chlorine is a powerful disinfectant, it kills most microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, and parasites) by breaking the chemical bonds in their molecules. The efficacy of disinfection using chlorine is dependent not only on the pathogen itself, but also on the Ph and temperature of the water. The higher the temperature and the lower the pH the better.
Unfortunately, some of the characteristics of sodium hypochlorite the made mass fumigation exercise ineffective to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the targeted public place is that a) it is rapidly inactivated in the presence of organic material; therefore, regardless of the concentration used, it is important to first clean the surfaces thoroughly with soap and water or detergent using mechanical action such as scrubbing or friction and b) it requires multiple application in a day to achieve its object of application. The frequency of application depends on the type of public environment.
Now that we all understand what zoomlion deployed for disinfecting our public places and how it works you can now join us to ask Zoomlion and government the following
legitimate questions as citizens.
1. Who advised Zoomlion to carry-out a one-time off spraying of our markets and other places that could prevent the spread of the coronavirus? It is common knowledge the few hours after spraying the markets and other public place, sodium hypochlorite, the active agent, is inactivated due to the presence of organic matters and the virus and other pathogens can begin to grow and disseminate once they are introduced to the place again.
2. Why did government agree to engage in this wasteful exercise that has cost the nation millions of cedis? There are institution and agencies at the disposal of government to analyse any proposal brought to it before committing itself. In this case, government has the FDA at its disposal to advise it on the efficacy of a one-time disinfection of public places to prevent the growth and spread of COVID-19 using sodium hypochlorite. This is simply not possible because the FDA has not licensed it for a single use to last for day. This exercise was not informed by science and data.
3. Did the government and zoomlion know that after fumigation and the public places are opened to the public anyone who comes from his or her home with the coronavirus could spread it among other users? I think they were not interested in the outcome of the fumigation that is why they are planning to carryout another round of fumigation exercise. If actually their reason was to prevent the spread of the coronavirus they would have done some analysis to assess the effectiveness of that multimillion cedis exercise, and for sure they would have realised it was a useless exercise and second round would not have been necessary.
4. Is the FDA aware zoomlion and government are wrongly using sodium hypochlorite and creating a false health security to the public who patronize these fumigated places?
In conclusion, it is clear the mass fumigation of public places to kill and prevent the spread of COVID-19 was an exercise in futility and a total waste of public funds. Hence, we urge government to stop the second round of the planned exercise in its current form to save us money and seek prudence as we lacked a lot.
Dr Thomas Winsum Anabah