Coronavirus: Disinfection tunnels installed in some places

Companies behind them see interest picking up ahead of end of circuit breaker

ST VIDEO: JASON QUAH

Two types of "disinfection tunnels" have been installed here, both of which automatically discharge disinfectant on individuals who pass through them.

The companies behind them aim to set more up at workplace entrances, as well as crowded areas such as malls, tourist hot spots and restaurants, in anticipation of the circuit breaker measures coming to an end on June 1.

The tunnel launched by A1 Facility Services, a National Environment Agency-licensed cleaning agency, comprises a walk-through structure and an ioniser which releases an industrial-grade disinfectant, disinfecting each individual who passes through it.

Requiring individuals to spend between 10 and 20 seconds in the tunnel, the non-toxic disinfectant is said to be effective in eradicating up to 99.99 per cent of viruses and bacteria on surfaces, including exposed skin, clothes and other personal belongings. It is also safe for one to breathe while in the tunnel.

Beyond the disinfection tunnel, a contactless temperature scanner installed at the building door will take one's temperature, denying entry to anyone whose temperature is above 37.5 deg C.

Costing about $4,500 including installation, the tunnel was first installed at a financial advisory office last month and saw a footfall of close to 150 people per day, prior to the updated circuit breaker measures.

A1 Facility Services is working with three dormitories under TPS Construction, with aims to install one tunnel by the end of the month and another two after the circuit breaker.

Mr Bryan Yi, managing director of A1 Facility Services, said the company devised the disinfection tunnel after receiving feedback from concerned customers regarding the impending influx of people returning to their workplaces.

Dr Lee Yuan Kun, a practising microbiologist, explained that the efficiency of a disinfectant depends on several factors, such as the concentration of the disinfectant, its contact time with the surface and how protected the virus particles are. Therefore, walking through the disinfection tunnel would serve the same function as cleaning one's hands with disinfectant or alcohol.


The non-toxic disinfectant in A1 Facility Services' tunnel is said to be effective in eradicating 99.99 per cent of viruses and bacteria on surfaces. PHOTO: A1 FACILITY SERVICES

A second type of tunnel, the Disinfection Clean Shower by South Korean company Sunkyung Industry, has been installed at local restaurant Hello Korean BBQ in Circular Road. Individuals entering the structure will be detected by a sensor, and are required to stand in the structure for at least two seconds while they are lightly sprayed with disinfectant.

The disinfectant used contains 70 per cent ethyl alcohol, and it is said to kill 99.99 per cent of all viruses and bacteria.

 
 
 

Mr Mefield Loh, executive sales director of JT Eagle Technology, the local exclusive distributor for the product, said the disinfection shower's speedy process can minimise bottle-necks at entrances of high-traffic places such as larger offices, schools and shopping malls.

The cost of the product, along with installation, is approximately $14,000, said the distributor, which has also received inquiries from a local casino regarding the product.

Professor Hong Minghui, vice-president of The Institution of Engineers, Singapore, noted that using the disinfectant in the tunnels for a few seconds will not be effective enough to kill all viruses, especially those on the body.

However, the automated sanitisation and temperature taking could reduce the need for manual operations, thus reducing risk of viral exposure for operators involved.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2020, with the headline 'Disinfection tunnels installed in some places'. Subscribe