BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
SCORES of unsuspecting people are said to be falling prey to scammers who advertise that they can fumigate homes and businesses to prevent COVID-19, yet their products have not been tested by regulatory bodies like the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ).
It has been revealed that some of the chemicals being used are harmful to human beings.
According to health sources who are part of an initiative to flush out the scammers, cities like Harare and Bulawayo have also been heavily relying on sodium hypochlorite.
“Chlorine evaporates at a rate of 0,75 gram active chlorine per day from the solution. So the active ingredients are not there to fight the virus for the 30 days.
“Sodium hypochlorite should not come in contact with air as it disintegrates and for those who use motor-powered fumigation devices, the heated sodium hypochlorite disintegrates when it comes in contact with sunlight, acids and certain metals. Prolonged exposure to sodium hypochlorite causes coughing, sore throat and the skin will become sensitive,” a source said.
Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, Zimbabwe and several other countries have witnessed the mushrooming of overnight fumigant suppliers who claim that their products can offer 30-day protection against micro-organisms.
Ordinary people have been engaging the services of these fraudsters, particularly if there happens to be a COVID-19 patient at home.
“COVID-19 is real, but some are making business out of it. But the challenge we face now is the type of chemicals we are using to fight this monster,” the source said.
He said use of bleaching agents is dangerous as they burn the skin, destroy mucus lining and are corrosive.
The sources said their main concern was that most restaurants and grocery shops were carrying out their own fumigation using fumigants not tested and approved by SAZ.
SAZ laboratory manager Tafadzwa Mkungunugwa said all products must be validated in terms of their safety. “If one says it stays on the surface for 30 days, then they should have a record that supports their claim. So in this case what needs to be done is they have to get their products tested,” he said.
“For the application test we use the same method they are using to disinfect or fumigate. We then swab the surfaces and determine if the chemical is capable of protecting the surfaces for 30 days without growth of micro-organisms on them.”