Covid-19: Demand for disinfectant tunnels grows as malls, offices, line up

Disinfectant tunnels are becoming one of the most in-demand commodities in the Covid world with malls, offices, banks, and shops lining up to install the structure at their entrances
The path to Venkateshwara, the deity at the Tirupati temple, involves crossing a tunnel these days.

This is no cave like the one Vaishno Devi’s pilgrims might be familiar with, but a disinfectant gateway that sprays you with the Rajat Bhasma solution to rid you of any virus such as Covid-19 from your clothes, hair, skin, and even feet.

“This tunnel was donated to us by a company called Nanolife. which makes the ayurvedic disinfectant. The temple is closed now, so it’s just our staff using it,” a senior official at the temple said.

Disinfectant tunnels are becoming one of the most in-demand commodities in the Covid world with malls, offices, banks, and shops lining up to install the structure at their entrances.

The immediate demand is coming from factories, where lockdown rules are being relaxed. An automobile factory recently went a step further and installed for its trucks huge archways, where they are sprayed with the disinfectant before entering the premises.
“Trucks travel all over the country and could have many vulnerable spots. This way one can ensure the safety of workers as well,” an industry source said.

The company swamped with these orders is a relatively new one, Chennai-based Nanolife, which has patented its Rajat Bhasma formula or the silver nanoparticles solution as a healthy disinfectant.

“Demand has never been this high ... being an ayurvedic product free of any chemicals, it is safe for human use. We are primarily a company making pharma products and we will partner with others to make these tunnels,” said Ajmal Dastagir, director, Nanolife.

The structure is usually a couple of metres in length and a metre and a half in width. It sprays the people entering with a mist-like solution that claims to kill the virus on the surface of one’s body.

The health ministry recently issued an advisory against spraying sodium hypochlorite as disinfectant on humans because it could lead to irritation in the eyes and skin, and have gastrointestinal effects such as nausea and vomiting.

The ayurvedic disinfectant has not been tested on Covid-19 but on a virus of the same pH family and shown 99.9 per cent efficacy. It is awaiting certification from the Bureau of Indian Standards.

As it is a non-alcoholic product, the company is seeing a lot of demand from religious places, especially mosques and temples. In the past month Nanolife received thousands of enquiries, including from the Tirupati temple.

Mumbai-based retail installations agency Surreal Design Studio has developed similar purification tunnels and booths. The company has received inquiries for these tunnels from top brands, corporate offices, residential spaces and even airports.

“We are gearing up our production backend for a pan-Indian rollout ... Some establishments have installed these tunnels and our market estimate shows that such measures will be standard procedures in most places in the future,” said Rahul Soni, managing director, Surreal Design Studio.

The Tirupati temple, for instance, has sought a tunnel model that can spray the liquid in a horizontal manner.
Sceptics, however, say if a person is potentially exposed to the Covid-19 virus, spraying the external part of the body would not kill the microbe, which is inside the body.

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