A funeral service worker in protective gear gets sprayed with disinfectant at Tegal Alur cemetery in West Jakarta on March 26. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Disinfectant Ineffective to Prevent Covid-19 Transmission: Gov't Task Force

BY :TARA MARCHELIN

MARCH 30, 2020

Jakarta. An expert team from the government's Covid-19 Task Force, headed by Professor Wiku Adisasmito, said on Monday that disinfectant – which Indonesians have been spraying everywhere to sterilize sites and people from coronavirus – can't effectively protect humans from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The only thing it could do is decontaminate them from microorganisms and bacteria, the professor said. 

"Disinfectant can be used to clean inanimate objects and clothes from microorganisms and bacteria, but the effect is temporary. It will not protect us from the virus," Wiku said in a virtual press conference.

He also said spraying the disinfectant directly to the human body is not recommended. The disinfectant could irritate the skin, eyes and mouth and cause respiratory disorders. 

"We don’t recommend the use of disinfection chamber. A combination of disinfectant and ultraviolet light can cause skin cancer," Wiku said.

Wiku also warned people not to overuse antiseptic hand sanitizer to avoid skin irritation.

"People, particularly smokers and those who work in a kitchen, have to be careful when they use hand sanitizer since it contains flammable ingredients," he said.

Wiku reminded the public to follow the World Health Organization's (WHO) recommendations when making hand sanitizers at home.

According to the "Guide to Local Production: WHO-recommended Handrub Formulations," the recommended ingredients for hand sanitizer are 96 percent ethanol, 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, 98 percent glycerol and sterile distilled or boiled cold water.

Washing Hands Still Key

Regularly washing hands with soap and running water, Wiku said, is still the most effective way to protect yourself from the virus.

"Hand sanitizer is an alternative. The most effective way is by washing your hands with soap and running water," he said.

Persahabatan Hospital's pulmonologist, Erlina Burhan, said washing hands is essential since Covid-19 can be transmitted through droplets from a positive patient. When a Covid-19 patient coughs, the droplets can spread to a distance of one meter and contaminate objects around them. Erna said the virus could be transmitted when someone else touches the contaminated objects.

"That's why washing hands is important because soap can kill the virus by removing its fatty outer layer," she said.

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 hypochlorite disinfectant, Wiku said.

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