Environment ministry warns against excessive disinfecting of public spaces

Ministry says no proof that use of disinfectants effective in containing coronavirus, could be damaging to health and the environment

A worker in protective clothing disinfects a public playground in the West Bank settlement of Efrat on March 22, 2020. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
A worker in protective clothing disinfects a public playground in the West Bank settlement of Efrat on March 22, 2020. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

The Environmental Protection Ministry warned Tuesday that excessive use of disinfectants in public areas could be damaging to people’s health and the environment.

The ministry also said it hasn’t been proven that disinfecting public spaces such as streets and parks is effective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

“The Environmental Protection Ministry warns that excessive use of disinfectant materials in the public sphere can cause unnecessary risk to people and environmental pollution and even raise concern about pollution of water sources,” the ministry said in a statement.

Israeli authorities have been spraying down hospital entrances, playgrounds, bus stops, synagogues and other public spaces amid the COVID-19 outbreak, with the government urging Israelis to remain at home to prevent the virus from spreading.

The ministry noted health experts stress improving personal hygiene to contain the virus and that the Health Ministry was not recommending the spraying of disinfectants.

It also said pesticides should not be used as disinfectants over they could leave residue.

Israeli firefighters in protective clothing disinfect the entrance to the emergency room at Hadassah Hospital Ein Karem in Jerusalem on March 22, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been 1,656 confirmed cases and two deaths in Israel from the coronavirus, which has killed over 17,000 people worldwide since it first emerged in China in December.

The government has imposed far-reaching limitations to contain the COVID-19 outbreak and was reportedly set to introduce drastic new restrictions including a complete halt of public transportation, the shuttering of all stores besides groceries and pharmacies and limiting citizens to to traveling no further than a few hundred meters from their homes.

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