Besides being harmful, UV light not yet proven to kill coronavirus, DOH cautions Filipinos

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2020 07:41 PM

A store clerk cleans a stencil used for shirt printing inside their shop at the Quiapo Central Market in Manila on September 04, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Department of Health on Monday cautioned Filipinos against the indiscriminate use of UV (ultra-violet) lamps for disinfection as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grip the country and the rest of the world.

While it acknowledged that UV light systems have long been used in hospitals, it can have harmful effects on people as well.

“Ang UV light, wala pa ho tayong ganoong ebidensya na talagang sinasabi directly na ito ay makakapagtigil o patay nitong SARS-CoV-2 virus,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.

(For UV light, there is no evidence yet directly saying that it can stop or kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus.)

“Ito ay maaring makaapekto sa ating mga mata and can even — doon sa severe na exposure — maaaring masira ang cornea ng mata ng isang tao. Pangalawa, maaaring makasunog ng balat. Pangatlo, meron din ho syang effect sa respiratory system sa matagalang paggamit,” she added.

(It can affect our eyes and for those with severe exposure, it can destroy the cornea. Second, it can burn your skin. Third, it can affect your respiratory system if you have been using it for a long time.)

Vergeire said this following reports of a demonstration of a UV disinfection robot in Baguio, causing several people to have eye irritation.

The health official said that while “hospitals have long been using UV lights to use as disinfection procedure or mechanism,” they already know how to properly use the system and how to protect those in-charge of using it.

She said people should be trained first before using UV light for disinfection.

Vergeire also pointed out last week that there are different kinds of UV light, and it is unclear what dosage would be needed for disinfection.

“'Pag ginamit sa bahay at ibang lugar, kailangan ng dobleng ingat dahil baka ito ay magkaroon ng harmful effect sa katawan ng tao,” she warned.

(If you use it at your home and in other places, you should be doubly careful because it might have a harmful effect on a person’s body.)

The World Health Organization has warned people not to use UV light to disinfect hands and other areas of the skin.

The Philippines has logged 290,190 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Monday, of which, 54,958 are active infections.