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Doctors warn vs. use of UV light to kill COVID-19

Several doctors on Tuesday warned against the harmful effects of ultraviolet light disinfectants against COVID-19.

According to Ivan Mayrina’s report on “24 Oras,” Dr. Jay Racoma, an ophthalmologist said prolonged exposure of UVC radiation to the eyes will result in photokeratitis or photoconjunctivitis.

“The outer parts of the eyes, the cornea and the conjunctiva so same way that our body is covered by skin, the conjunctiva is the covering of the eye and the cornea is the outer part of the eye so sila ‘yong unang tatamaan if ever by UVC radiation,” Racoma explained.

“If there’s prolonged exposure to the eyes, which will result in photokeratitis and this will result in pain, irritation, redness swelling, and temporary blurring,” he added.

The Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology and the Philippine Cornea Society, meanwhile, said regular exposure might also cause occurrence of catarata.

Aside from damaging the eyes, Dr. Jean Marquez, a dermatologist, said UV lights can also harm the skin.

“It can actually cause burns. It can cause irritation. Sometimes when you get hit by an ultraviolet, the inflammation is just underneath, it does not manifest kaagad unless na lagi sigurong nae-expose, doon lang may potential risk din na magkaroon ng skin cancer and aging,” she said.

The Department of Health earlier said there is no evidence that UV light disinfectants can kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines also said it is not considering UV light disinfectants as medical equipment.

Earlier, at least eight members of the media reported eye irritations following the demonstration of a UV light robot in Baguio City.

Robotics Activation, which brought the technology to Baguio City, apologized to members of the media.

"We sincerely thought we had exercised enough precautions, when the press asked to switch the robot on, but it turns out we didn't. We extend our apologies to the members of the press who were affected, and are updating our protocols to make sure that this does not happen again, moving forward," Robotics Activations chief of business development Camille Anton said.

"The discomfort from the UV exposure is real, but is supposed to be temporary, by all accounts. We remain in contact with those affected to ensure that this is the case," she added.

Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong also took full responsibility for the incident, but noted that it did not have any effect on the city's acquisition plans of the technology.—Ma. Angelica Garcia/LDF, GMA News