Chinese companies are using ultraviolet (UV) light through public vehicles and elevators to eradicate viruses to clear the country from the coronavirus, which has affected people from China and all over the world. Yanggao, Shanghai’s public transport firm has changed a regular room into a UV light cleaning room for public vehicles, reducing the process from 40 minutes to five. The marketing supervision bureau in southern Guangdong province urges “a smart UV elevator purification system”, which it says gets rid of the virus residue. UV tubes are built in the elevators and switched on when the system knows that no one is inside, brushing off the place with infiltrating UV rays and mechanically switching off when it’s complete.

However, the World Health Organization has instructed that UV lamps should not be applied to disinfect hands or other parts of the body, as UV emission can bring about irritation of the skin. Qin Jin, the deputy general at Yanggao, said the rooms are shut and switched on by the employees outside. Health professionals said that UV lamps are not usually used to clean public spaces, but it could be effective when it is done properly. Paul Tambyah, president of the Asia Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection, said UV disinfection is effective but needs to be used with care as the light can cause skin cancer. “UV disinfection is widely used in hospitals worldwide after patients have left the room,” he said. “This is used for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, tuberculosis and other infectious agents.” While it is rarely used on public transport, “there is no good reason why it would not work”. Yanggao is not the only institution investing in UV disinfection.