Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

17.15 20 Apr 2020


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Sanitizing the streets is not a priority in dealing with the coronavirus, according to a leading expert.

There have been calls for authorities here to follow the example of other countries and spray public areas.

Dublin City Council's Chief Executive Owen Keegan has said street cleaning teams in the capital are under pressure due to the current restrictions, and power cleaning is not considered "a critical service" at the moment.

He also suggested they've seen no evidence to indicate that such deep cleaning has a role in fighting COVID-19, but they're listening to experts to find out whether it would make a "positive contribution.

Dr Gabriel Fitzpatrick - Medical Director of Trinity Clinics - says that while sanitizing streets is not a bad idea, it's low down the list of priorities in the current crisis.

Speaking on The Hard Shoulder, Dr Fitzpatrick said: "Remember we have one of the best disinfectants available free of charge on our streets, and that's [ultraviolet] radiation.

"On a day like today, the sun is falling on the streets... so that means UV radiation is falling on the streets. One thing coronavirus - which is an RNA virus - hates is UV radiation: it kills it within minutes.

"We're not saying it's a bad idea to wash our streets with disinfectant... all we're saying is it's lower down the priorities list."

He said the main focus should instead be on rapid testing and contact tracing.

Dr Fitzpatrick explained that while the virus may be able to linger in 'dark corners' for up to three days where there's vomit and blood, that will not be the case in most normal circumstances.

He said: "On the main street... where the sun is shining... the virus is lasting minutes, not 72 hours.

"It's always a great idea to have our streets clean... it also provides reassurance for the population... when they're seeing their streets being cleaned.

"What I'm saying is if there's a coronavirus sitting on O'Connell Street in the middle of the sunshine... it's dead in minutes, not 72 hours."

Main image: Disinfection of public spaces to combat the Covid19 coronavirus epidemic in Romans-sur-Isere, France on 27 March 2020. Photo by Delmarty/ANDBZ/ABACAPRESS.COM

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