New York City sees spike in disinfectant exposure cases after President Donald Trump’s comments on Coronavirus

In this file photo taken on March 16, 2020, an attendee holds a container of Lysol disinfecting wipes during a press conference at San Francisco City Hall by Mayor London Breed. (AFP photo)

There has been a spike in cases of disinfectant exposure in New York City hours after President Donald Trump suggested that “disinfectant” can be used to cure people infected with the coronavirus.

Speaking during his daily briefing on Thursday night, Trump suggested that injecting the cleaning agent could help treat coronavirus patients.

“I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because, you see, it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number,“ Trump said.
Between Thursday evening and Friday afternoon, the New York City’s Poison Control Center managed 30 cases, according to a spokesperson, who said it was more than double the number of cases the center dealt with over the same period last year.

The Poison Control Center reported nine cases of possible exposure to Lysol, a US brand of disinfectant; 10 cases pertaining to bleach; and 11 to household cleaners generally, all compared to only 13 cases over the same 2019 period.

In a message, the city's health commissioner discouraged New Yorkers from injecting bleach and other disinfectants.

    "Very clearly, disinfectants are not intended for ingestion either by mouth, by ears, by breathing them in — in any way shape or form. And doing so can put people at great risk," said Dr. Oxiris Barbot in a video posted to Twitter.

    Meanwhile, the parent of the company that makes Lysol and Dettol, Reckitt Benckiser, issued a statement, saying, “We must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).”

The US surgeon general’s office also called on all Americans to “always talk to your health provider first before administering any treatment/ medication to yourself or a loved one.”

In addition, director of pharmacy practice and a professor of social and cognitive pharmacy at the University of Reading, Parastou Donyai, said Trump’s comments were shocking and unscientific.

She urged people worried about the new coronavirus to seek help from a qualified doctor or pharmacist, and “not take unfounded and off-the-cuff comments as actual advice”.