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Local Governments’ Disinfection Operation Done Incorrectly, Says Health D-G
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Local Governments’ Disinfection Operation Done Incorrectly, Says Health D-G

Anne Dorall

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Fears over the spread of Covid-19 has led many government bodies to take matters in their own hands and carry out public disinfection operations.

Local authorities such as the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) were tasked to carry out disinfection and sanitisation operations in crowded areas within the red zone.

However, Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has advised these local authorities to follow the standard operating procedures (SOP) when carrying out the disinfection procedures.

We thank and welcome the initiatives taken by the authorities on the disinfection programmes, but they should follow the ministry’s SOP. We will advise what needs to be done and what to avoid.

Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah

The recent disinfection operations were carried out by local authorities before the Ministry of Health (MOH) could provide appropriate guidelines for the task.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin carries out a public disinfection operation at a wet market in Jalan Othman March 31, 2020.
(Credit: Bernama)

Several experts have criticized the use of such disinfection measures, citing it as a waste of resources. Dale Fisher, an infectious diseases expert based in Singapore who chairs the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network coordinated by the World Health Organization, said that this practice could pose a health risk instead.

The virus does not survive for long in the environment and people do not generally touch the ground.

Dale Fisher

Christopher Lee, a former deputy director general in Malaysia’s health ministry and an infectious disease specialist, claims that disinfecting roads is clearly not going to be impactful, and is instead a waste of resources and man hours.

Instead, experts say that the best way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 is still to practice personal hygiene with frequent hand-washing.

However, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin has defended such large scale sanitisation operations.

I think it is better to be careful and spray more places and to cover fewer places. This is just a precaution, if they think spraying (disinfectant) on roads is just a waste of money.

Zuraida Kamaruddin

According to her, it’s better to disinfect more places than to risk missing some areas. Commonly-touched areas such as doors, windows, and handlebars are already being sanitised by another team.

The cost of each operation is less than RM1 million since 100,000 litres of disinfectant had been donated from corporate social responsibility initiatives.

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