Robots Worker disinfect playground equipment in Ganzhou, Jianxi, China Daily via Reuters.JPG

Robots Worker disinfect playground equipment in Ganzhou, Jianxi, China Daily via Reuters.JPG

A worker disinfects playground equipment at a kindergarten in Ganzhou, China. The students’ return was delayed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, on March 2, 2020.

China Daily via Reuters


  • The coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to 90 other countries.
  • Many cities are disinfecting public surfaces with bleach-and-water mixtures.
  • Experts aren’t sure how long the contagious virus can live on surfaces, but say it could range from a few hours to a day or so.
  • Spraying disinfectant solutions into the air is probably not an effective way to kill the virus, but wiping down highly touched surfaces is.
  • Photos show mosques, schools, and streets being sprayed and wiped down around the World.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

One of the most effective ways to fight the spread of the new coronavirus is to disinfect highly touched surfaces. Across the World, disinfection teams have descended upon kindergartens, state capital buildings, markets, mosques, airports, and public roads.

Teams of hazmat-suited workers are spraying low-concentration bleach-and-water mixtures from trucks, guns, drones, and robots. 

Public-health experts think mass disinfection efforts will have mixed effectiveness in outbreak zones. Disinfecting surfaces that are commonly touched, such as in hospitals, schools, and religious sites, can help kill germs. However, misting sanitizer in the air or on the street is likely ineffective, because the virus isn’t airborne and people don’t touch the street that often.

The coronavirus has spread to more than 90 countries since it emerged in Wuhan, China, late last year. In total, at least 100,000 people have been infected, and more than 3,400 have died. (See Business Insider’s latest updates here.)

Photos from China, South Korea, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Nigeria, and more show how the World is trying to sanitize. 

Robots China has placed around 56 million people under quarantine. Public gatherings are banned, schools are shut down, and employees are working from home if possible.

Robots A worker sprays a street with disinfectant after the novel coronavirus outbreak in Beijing, China, February 23, 2src2src. .JPG

A worker sprays a street with disinfectant during the coronavirus outbreak in Beijing, China, on February 23, 2020.

Thomas Peter/Reuters


The city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began, has been quarantined since January 23. Transportation — buses, subways, ferries, trains, airplanes, and private cars — has been halted.

Robots In cities and towns across China, including Shanghai, Beijing, and Wuhan, sanitation workers have been sent to spray down all public areas. Trucks filled with low-concentration bleach-and-water solutions drive through the streets.

Robots Workers with protective face masks on ride smart self balancing scooters_chinadaily via reuters.JPG

Workers with protective face masks ride smart self-balancing scooters as they control a robotic disinfectant sprayer at a residential compound in Wuhan, China, on March 3, 2020.

China Daily via Reuters


Source: Business Insider.

Robots Workers wearing hazmat suits and face masks have swept through train stations, malls, and other destinations, wiping down surfaces to kill viral particles that might linger on them.

Robots Worker with sanitizing equipment disinfects inside the Shanghai Stock Exchange building,amid novel coronavirus outbreak, at the Pudong financial district in Shanghai.JPG

A worker with sanitizing equipment disinfects the Shanghai Stock Exchange amid the coronavirus outbreak, at the Pudong financial district in Shanghai, China, February 28, 2020.

Aly Song/Reuters


Robots Scientists aren’t yet sure how long droplets containing the virus can live on surfaces. According to the World Health Organization, “studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days.”

Robots Sanitation workers disinfect a residential compound, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Bozhou .JPG

Sanitation workers disinfect a residential compound amid the coronavirus outbreak, in Bozhou, Anhui province, China, on February 18, 2020.

China Daily via Reuters


The wide range depends on factors like the type of surface a droplet lands on, the temperature or humidity of the surrounding environment, and what kind of droplet a virus is traveling in (saliva or phlegm, say).

Robots But sanitizing misters are probably not the most effective way to kill the virus, experts say. The coronavirus mainly travels person to person through saliva and mucus droplets, not through tiny particles in the air.

Robots Disinfectant tunnel

Walking through green plants amid foggy air and standing inside a “misty tunnel” are new options for people in Chongqing, central China, to get disinfected before starting work in an industrial complex, on February 12, 2020.

China News Service via Reuters


When people who have COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, cough and sneeze, the viral particles can land on those within 3 to 5 feet and infect them.

Robots “I would rather see better efforts to make sure people are disinfecting emergency rooms and high-touch surfaces in hospitals and schools more than I would want to see bleach being sprayed on streets,” Saskia Popescu, an infection-prevention epidemiologist, told Business Insider.

Robots A volunteer in protective suits controls a drone to spray disinfectants at Zhengwan village, amid coronavirus, in Handan, Hebei province, China January 31, 2src2src. China Daily via REUTERS .JPG

A volunteer in a protective suit controls a drone to spray disinfectants at Zhengwan village amid an outbreak of the new coronavirus, in Handan, Hebei province, China, on January 31, 2020.

China Daily via Reuters


“Honestly, think about how often do your hands or your mouth come into contact with a street?” she said.

Robots China also uses spray cannons similar to the ones used for disinfection to combat smog: Industrial misters can spray water droplets that trap and pull dust and pollution particles out of the air in smoggy areas.

Robots Workers operate a vehicle to carry out disinfection in Jianghan district_China Daily via Reuters.JPG

Workers operate a vehicle to carry out disinfection in the Jianghan district of China, on February 10, 2020.

China Daily via Reuters


Source: China Dialogue.

Robots Experts stress that basic public-health measures like washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, and staying away from sick people are the best ways to protect yourself.

Robots Worker disinfect playground equipment in Ganzhou, Jianxi, China Daily via Reuters.JPG

A worker disinfects playground equipment at a kindergarten in Ganzhou, China. The students’ return was delayed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, on March 2, 2020.

China Daily via Reuters


Robots Cases of coronavirus are spiking in South Korea: More than 6,500 people have been infected.

Robots An employee from a disinfection service company sanitizes at a market in Seoul, South Korea, February 27, 2src2src. REUTERS:Heo Ran .JPG

An employee from a disinfection service company sanitizes at a market in Seoul, South Korea, on February 27, 2020.

Heo Ran/Reuters


Robots In South Korea, the virus has spread among a religious group called the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the city of Daegu, the country’s fourth-largest city.

Robots An employee from a disinfection service company sanitizes Myeongdong Catholic Cathedral in Seoul, South Korea, February 26, 2src2src. Yonhap via REUTERS.JPG

An employee from a disinfection service company sanitizes Myeongdong Catholic Cathedral in Seoul, South Korea, on February 26, 2020.

Yonhap via Reuters


A 61-year-old churchgoer in Daegu tested positive and caused a “super-spreader” event: Over two weekends at tightly packed prayer services, she came in contact with over 1,000 people.

The South Korean government has canceled and postponed public gatherings.

Robots Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s president, said in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the “entire nation has entered a state of war against this infectious disease.”

Robots Employees from a disinfection service company sanitize the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, February 25, 2src2src. Yonhap via REUTERS .JPG

Employees from a disinfection-service company sanitize the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, on February 25, 2020.

Yonhap via Reuters


Robots After the country’s National Assembly met about its coronavirus response, a sanitation team disinfected the space.

Robots Employees from a disinfection service company sanitize the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, February 25, 2src2src. Yonhap via REUTERS.JPG

Employees from a disinfection service company sanitize the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, on February 25, 2020.

Yonhap via Reuters


Robots Disinfectant products like hand sanitizer are selling out in South Korea, according to Reuters. With soaring demand for ethanol to produce more disinfectant, South Korean soju makers have donated the alcohol that typically goes into the drink.

Robots SouthKorea novel coronavirus spread wooha Cho:Getty Images

South Korean military members have been ordered to disinfect Seoul, South Korea, as the coronavirus spreads, on March 4.

Woohae Cho/Getty Images


Source: Reuters

Robots Italy has reported more than 140 coronavirus deaths — the highest number outside of China. The two major outbreak zones are near Milan and Venice.

Robots  Specialized operators disinfect a public vaporetto in the depot of the Venetian transport company on February 26, 2src2src in Venice, Italy.

Specialized operators disinfect a public vaporetto in the depot of the Venetian transport company on February 26, 2020, in Venice, Italy. The contagious coronavirus continues to spread in Italy.

Stefano Mazzola/Awakening via Getty Images


The Italian government has called for the cancelation of any event that would be too crowded for people to stay at least 3 feet away from others. Schools and universities have been closed for more than a week.

Robots In Nigeria, an Italian man tested positive for coronavirus after arriving in Lagos from Milan on February 24. He was diagnosed three days later after developing symptoms. It was the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa.

Robots Visitors to a state hospital collects face masks, hand gloves and have their hands sanitised as they walk past the security post entrance in Lagos, on February 28, 2src2src.

Visitors to a state hospital collects face masks, hand gloves, and have their hands sanitized as they walk past the security post entrance in Lagos, Nigeria, on February 28, 2020.

Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP via Getty Images


The Government of Nigeria has established a “coronavirus preparedness group,” led by its Center for Disease Control. The World Health Organization also said that it already has experts on the ground in Nigeria, which it calls a “high priority” country.

Robots Iran has over 4,700 coronavirus cases and 124 deaths — the second-highest number of deaths in countries outside China (after Italy).

Robots Members of a medical team spray disinfectant to sanitize outdoor place of Imam Reza's holy shrine, following the coronavirus outbreak, in Mashhad, Iran February 27, 2src2src. WANA (West Asia News Agency).JPG

Members of a medical team spray disinfectant to sanitize the outdoor area of Imam Reza’s holy shrine, amid the coronavirus outbreak, in Mashhad, Iran, on February 27, 2020.

WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters


About 8% of Iran’s parliament — 23 out of 290 members — is affected by the coronavirus. The country preemptively released 54,000 prisoners to avoid the disease’s spread in its crowded prisons.

Robots Trucks filled with disinfectants are spraying down streets, shrines, public parks, trash bins, public toilets, and markets in Tehran and other areas with rising case totals, Reuters reported.

Robots A member of a medical team sprays disinfectant to sanitize the inside of Imam Reza's holy shrine, following the coronavirus outbreak, in Mashhad, Iran February 27, 2src2src. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS.JPG

A member of a medical team sprays disinfectant to sanitize the inside of Imam Reza’s holy shrine, following the coronavirus outbreak, in Mashhad, Iran, on February 27, 2020.

WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters


Sanitation teams are also disinfecting religious sites in Iran, but those have not been closed or locked down.

Robots “The smell of disinfectants has become my nightmare,” Ziba Rezaie, a 62-year-old retired teacher from Qom, Iran, told Reuters. “The city smells like a cemetery, a morgue.”

Robots Members of the medical team spray disinfectant to sanitize indoor place of Imam Reza's holy shrine, following the coronavirus outbreak, in Mashhad, Iran February 27, 2src2src. .JPG

Members of the medical team spray disinfectant to sanitize Imam Reza’s holy shrine following the coronavirus outbreak in Mashhad, Iran, on February 27, 2020.

WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters


Source: Reuters.

Robots The Iraqi government has closed the border with Iran. Authorities have also ordered schools, universities, theaters, restaurants, and other public places to shut down.

Robots An Iraqi man looks out of a gateway as a member of the civil defence disinfects a neighbourhood where a recent case of novel coronavirus infection was confirmed in the central shrine city of Najaf, on February 3, 2src2src. (Photo by Haidar HAMDANI : AFP

An Iraqi man looks on as a member of the civil defense disinfects a neighborhood where a recent case of coronavirus infection was confirmed in Najaf, Iraq, on February 3, 2020.

Haidar Hamdani/AFP via Getty Images


Robots The virus is now in at least 90 countries other than China.

Robots  Workers wearing protective suits prepare to disinfect a Vietnam Airlines plane amid concerns of the spread of the COVID 19 coronavirus at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on March 3, 2src2src. (Photo by Nhac NGUYEN : AFP

Workers wearing protective suits prepare to disinfect a Vietnam Airlines plane amid concerns of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on March 3, 2020.

Nhac Nguyen/AFP via Getty Images


Vietnam had 16 confirmed cases, but all the patients have recovered. The country closed its borders with China and closed public schools, according to reports from local media

Robots Some schools in Lebanon have closed as well.

Robots  An employee from a disinfection company sanitizes a closed school, as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, in Sidon, Lebanon February 29, 2src2src. REUTERS:Ali Hashisho.JPG

An employee from a disinfection company sanitizes a closed school, as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, in Sidon, Lebanon February 29, 2020.

Ali Hashisho/Reuters


Source: Reuters.

Robots The country of Georgia reported its first case of coronavirus on February 26. Georgian health minister Ekaterine Tikaradze said the citizen traveled to and from Iran.

Robots An employee wearing protective gear rides an escalator while spraying disinfectant to sanitize a metro station in Tbilisi, Georgia March 3, 2src2src. REUTERS:Irakli Gedenidze .JPG

An employee wearing protective gear rides an escalator while spraying disinfectant to sanitize a metro station in Tbilisi, Georgia, on March 3, 2020.

Irakli Gedenidze/Reuters


The country has suspended travel between Georgia and Iran for two weeks. Travel to China is also banned.

Robots Russia has stepped up sanitation efforts. It has also closed most entry points along its 4,200-kilometer border with China and temporarily banned Chinese citizens from entering the country.

Robots An employee disinfecting an electric bus at Moscow's trolleybus depot No 6. on March 3 2src2src Mikhail TereshchenkoTASS via Getty Images

An employee disinfecting an electric bus at Moscow’s trolleybus depot No 6. on March 3, 2020.

Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS via Getty Images


The World Health Organization increased the global risk of the new coronavirus to “very high” on Monday. The organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said at a briefing Tuesday that containment of the virus is still possible.

Hilary Brueck contributed reporting.

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