DILG reiterates ban on misting, spraying people; laments death of police doctor

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) reiterated the ban on misting and spraying on people following the death of police doctor Capt. Casey Gutierrez who reportedly inhaled a disinfectant inside a quarantine facility in Pasig City.

“Ikinalulungkot namin ang pangyayaring ito lalo pa’t nilinaw naman ng DILG at ng Department of Health (DOH) noong Abril pa na mapanganib sa kalusugan ang misting at spraying,” DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said.

He reminds local government units (LGUs) and all of the Department’s attached agencies, including the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), on the danger of misting disinfectant chemicals to people.

He cited DOH’s Memorandum 2020-0157, stating that there is no evidence to support large scale misting, fogging, or spraying indoor or outdoor with disinfecting agents kills the virus.

“LGUs and all public and private establishments are reminded that misting causes additional health concern because pathogens may be dispersed further, may result to skin irritation and inhalation of chemicals, and could even cause environmental pollution,” he said in reference to the DOH memo.

In an Advisory dated April 18, 2020, the DILG Secretary advised LGUs to prohibit the use of disinfection tents, misting chambers or sanitation booths for individuals without PPE (personal protective equipment) in reference to DOH Memorandum 2020-0157.

According to the said DILG Advisory, commonly used chemical disinfectants such as hypochlorite are irritant to the skin and the mucous membrane (eyes, nose, and throat) and may have adverse effects when inhaled.

There are also limited studies that support the effectiveness of the said chemical disinfectant.

“Bagamat maganda ang intensyon ng misting, nilinaw na po ng DOH na ‘di ito mainam sa kalusugan. Let’s be informed of the dos and don’ts as we continue to fight COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) in a concerted and scientific-based efforts and strategy,” he said.

Año also expressed his condolences to the family of the late 31-year-old police physician who recently died because of possible disinfectant poisoning.

“Napakasaklap mawalan ng isa na namang frontliner doctor sa gitna ng pandemya. Ang masakit pa rito’y kapabayaan ang ikinamatay ni Capt. Gutierrez, hindi ang kalaban nating COVID-19,” he added.

The DILG Chief ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to fully investigate the incident.

“Inaatasan ko rin ang PNP na siguruhing lumabas ang katotohanan sa imbestigasyon at managot ang dapat managot. Tiyakin ninyong wala ng susunod na ganitong insidente,” he said.

On the part of PNP Chief Gen. Archie Gamboa, he clarified that the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) is neither blamed nor pointed to as the source of the concentrated disinfectant solution used by medical and healthcare personnel at the PhilSports Arena Temporary Treatment and Monitoring facility.

Gamboa said that in the interest of a thorough investigation, it was suggested that the OCD be asked to assist in the determination of the chemicals’ source given that it was OCD that accredited the service providers in the quarantine facilities operated by the PNP.