Region, COVID-19

City Halls in Guanacaste resort to massive disinfections to contain the spread of COVID-19

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The local governments of Nicoya, Liberia and Santa Cruz disinfected some of the canton’s most affluent sites in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. César Blanco, Nicoya City press officer, said they decided to proceed with this as “another preventive measure.”

Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Costa Rica Ministry of Health recommend disinfecting surfaces to prevent COVID-19 infections. This was reported by #NoComaCuento, a Costa Rican journalism project that is part of Red Latam Chequea, to which La Voz de Guanacaste also belongs.

However, some scientists warn that there is no solid evidence that disinfecting public spaces helps prevent new cases of infection, according to information from the digital platform Salud con Lupa, another member of Red Latam Chequea.

Disinfection should focus more on indoor places, such as hospitals, emergency rooms, markets, banks, or pharmacies, where infections are more likely to occur,” explained Salud con Lupa.

Nicoya’s local government has carried out two massive disinfections, each with a cost of ¢500,000 (some $900). According to Blanco, the first disinfection was on April 4 in downtown Nicoya, in places such as the market, the municipal terminal, Calle del Comercio, on the outskirts of the La Anexión hospital and the Recaredo Briceño park.

The second was in the Samara district. Local government does not rule out carrying out more interventions like this in other communities such as Nosara.

The product used is called Sanivir, a high-spectrum disinfectant that eliminates bacteria, fungi, and viruses (…). It is of European manufacture and endorsed by the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Costa Rica,” added the communication manager.

On April 6, the Health Minister, Daniel Salas, was asked whether this initiative is functional. He explained that disinfecting sidewalks or streets became practice in countries such as China, but that it has not been a particular recommendation by the World Health Organization (WHO).

It is not that it is completely useless, but it is not what contributes the most if these other measures that I have already indicated [hand washing, social distancing, among others] are followed,” Salas added.

Liberia Mayor Julio Viales explained that these disinfections were donated by the RV Fumigation company after the municipality “asked for help with that.”

Among the locations that have been disinfected in Liberia are the main bus stop, the market, and the municipal building.

“See, we’ve only had one case here [of Covid-19]. I think that has helped us,” mentioned Viales. As of publication deadline, on April 30, there were three confirmed cases in Liberia. One of the patients has already recovered and the other two were confirmed this week.

Santa Cruz local government posted on social media that they are in a period of disinfection. The sports and recreation center and the municipal market were some of the places chosen to carry out the work.

La Voz de Guanacaste tried to find out more about the process, but at the time this information was published, it was not possible to obtain any details from the authorities.

Throughout the country, other cantons such as Desamparados and San José have also disinfected public spaces, this timewith soap and chlorine.

More countries replicate it

Despite there being no clear evidence of its benefits, other Latin American countries have also applied different strategies to disinfect public spaces in order to slow down the spread of COVID-19 cases.

Among them are provinces and municipalities of Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, and Bolivia, according to Salud con lupa. This is also the case in the City of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, where streets, parks and public squares are disinfected with sodium hypochlorite, according to reports from the Argentine newspaper La Nación.

Chemicals that can kill the virus must be at least 70% alcohol or be chlorine solutions. Also, bleach-based disinfectants, 75% ethanol, peracetic acid and chloroform can kill the coronavirus, according to data from Efecto Cucuyo, a Venezuelan media organization that is also part of Red Latam.

Even in the city of Wuhan, where COVID-19 was first identified, drones, trucks, and cleaning crews sprayed public spaces with disinfectant.

China is also using ultraviolet lamps to disinfect buses when these are vacant, according to reports by Maldita.es, a Spanish newspaper that also belongs to Red Latam.

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