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china covid: In a haze of disinfectant, China battles an invisible enemy

China’s hazmat-clad health workers are leaving a fine mist of disinfectant, cleaning homes, streets, packages and even people — but more than two years into the pandemic, experts say it’s a futile measure against Covid-19.

China is bound by a zero-Covid strategy, employing immediate lockdowns, mass testing and lengthy quarantines as part of a relentless effort to quell virus outbreaks, regardless of the cost to the economy or the freedoms of its people.

His arsenal of virus controls includes disinfectant spraying, which a senior Shanghai official earlier this month hailed as a key element of a “major attack” on the virus.

The footage shows legions of “great whites” — as health workers in hazmat suits are known in China — spraying homes with a virus-killing mist after their residents were placed in government quarantine.

The sight has become one of the most visible expressions of China’s zero-Covid policy, which has taken on a political dimension as President Xi Jinping has cemented his leadership’s legitimacy on protecting Chinese lives from Covid.

Personal belongings and furnishings lie amid clouds of detergent, as shown in the images – while in other cases, the targets are city streets, walls, and parks.

But such labor-intensive campaigns are relatively pointless against a virus that spreads through droplets expelled into the air when you cough and sneeze, experts told AFP.

“Because infection from touching contaminated surfaces is not a major transmission route, extensive and aggressive use of disinfectants is not required,” said Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations.

Transmission through contaminated surfaces and objects is possible, but comparatively rare.

The odds haven’t deterred China’s disinfectant sprayers.

Shanghai alone has sterilized 13,000 areas by May 2 under a policy targeting the houses and apartment blocks of infected people and the “preventive” disinfection of entire buildings, Vice Mayor Liu Duo said.

The city has been seething under a shifting mosaic of lockdowns for weeks, with some of its 25 million residents clashing with the police and unleashing a torrent of anger and frustration on social media.

In social media video verified by AFP, a health worker in hazmat suits brandishing a powerful hose sprays disinfectant on a resident’s bed, desk and clothing.

Other clips show workers roaming streets and condominiums, spraying walls, scooters and even the floor as residents queue for tests.

A Shanghai resident told AFP his home was sterilized twice after they returned from quarantine and his family was ordered to wait outside for an hour each time.

Experts are struggling to see the need for the measure to maintain public health.

While the virus can be transmitted through surfaces, “it cannot survive long outside the human body, so sterilizing outdoor surfaces is unnecessary,” said Huang of the Council on Foreign Relations.

“The widespread use of some chemical disinfectants, such as B. chlorine disinfectants, could have harmful effects on human health (and) the environment.”

Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease expert at Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, said outdoor disinfection was “absolutely pointless”.

“The Chinese expression is ‘draw feet on a snake’ – redundant,” he told AFP.

China’s refusal to falter at zero-Covid could spur eager use of sterilizers, said Ben Cowling, a professor in the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health.

Given the disruptive effects of sudden lockdowns, “one could see a reason to use every transmission reduction approach possible,” he told AFP.

This can include strategies that “may have almost no effect, but in rare cases can prevent infection,” he added.

Leong said the disinfection action was mainly “a lot of visible interventions that administrators like” without doing much to prevent the spread of Covid.

But Beijing’s desire to demonstrate its commitment to flagship policies is perhaps the more important aspect, Huang said.

The move “conjures up the image of a heroic struggle against an invisible enemy,” he said.

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/in-a-haze-of-disinfectant-china-struggles-with-invisible-enemy/articleshow/91559265.cms china covid: In a haze of disinfectant, China battles an invisible enemy

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