SINGAPORE: A disinfectant tunnel for workers and volunteers at the Singapore Expo community care facility is being trialled for safety and effectiveness against COVID-19.
This sanitiser mist system is one method being tested at various locations to help Singapore fight the coronavirus, the Temasek Foundation told CNA on Friday (May 22).
READ: 3rd person in public healthcare who works at Singapore Expo community care facility contracts COVID-19
The tunnel uses a non-toxic and non-flammable disinfectant, the foundation said, adding that user feedback has been positive.
“Individuals working at places with COVID-19 patients or locations with significant COVID-19 outbreaks, face a greater risk of COVID-19 infection, through interactions with patients and contact with fomites or contaminated surfaces in the environment,” it said.
“One potential solution to help provide an added layer of protection is the Clean Lane sanitiser mist system."
The Singapore Expo community care facility is housing thousands of COVID-19 patients with mild or no symptoms, and those who are recovering or have been discharged from hospital.
Before deciding on trial prototypes, Temasek Foundation said it studied various options and research literature to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of mist systems.
READ: Life at the Singapore Expo: A COVID-19 patient shares his experience in a community isolation facility
This comes after the World Health Organization said in an interim guidance report last Friday that spraying individuals with disinfectants, such as in a tunnel, cabinet, or chamber, “is not recommended under any circumstances”.
“This could be physically and psychologically harmful and would not reduce an infected person’s ability to spread the virus through droplets or contact,” the report said.
“Moreover, spraying individuals with chlorine and other toxic chemicals could result in eye and skin irritation, bronchospasm due to inhalation, and gastrointestinal effects such as nausea and vomiting.”
Spraying or fumigation of outdoor spaces are also not recommended to kill COVID-19 or other pathogens because the "disinfectant is inactivated by dirt and debris and it is not feasible to manually clean and remove all organic matter from such spaces".
Those working at the Expo have the option of trying out different variants of the Clean Lane prototypes, but must comply with strict safety measures including using protective eyewear, Temasek Foundation said.
Its mist system uses a non-toxic, zero-alcohol and non-flammable disinfectant, based on 0.1 per cent Benzalkonium Chloride (BKC) “that has been found to be effective against germs including coronaviruses”, the foundation added.
Temasek Foundation said it is still doing literature studies on other alternatives, but has ruled out highly flammable alcohol-based disinfectants like high concentration ethanol or isopropanol.
“Corrosive and potentially dangerous solution such as bleach-based disinfectants have also been ruled out,” it added.
The foundation said initial user feedback has been positive, noting that users see it as an added protection on top of measures like washing hands and wearing masks.
“In other words, they do not have a false sense of security with the use of these ancillary facilities,” it stated.
Based on the trial results, the foundation is working with local research and educational institutes to assess if the Clean Lane system is safe and effective in reducing microbial load, from bacteria to non-enveloped viruses.
“Studies on eye safety and other aspects are in progress,” it said.
It will review the safety and efficacy data together with research and operational partners at each stage of the trials.
This will ensure the Clean Lane system meets all safety requirements for users before a decision is made on the “best way and form factor” for deployment.
“We will continue to refine and improve our solutions with data validation and will be happy to explore all options or inputs from all interested parties,” it added.