Posted: Thu 2nd Sep 2021

Welsh Government to look again at the evidence before buying ozone disinfectant machines for schools

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Sep 2nd, 2021

The Welsh Government will look again at evidence before buying controversial ozone disinfectant machines for schools.

It follows serious concerns from opposition parties over the ozone machine – Plaid said the Welsh government look to have performed a “quite a spectacular U-turn.”

Ministers announced last week that it intends to spend nearly £6 million on 1,800 chemical-spraying devices and 30,000 CO2 sensors as students prepare to return to school.

The investment was announced by the Welsh Government after the time and cost of cleaning rooms was identified as an issue for schools and colleges early in the pandemic.

Scientists at Swansea University later developed an ozone disinfecting machine, now in production, which can be deployed for the task.

The machines can be used to quickly disinfect classrooms when clusters of Covid-19 or other communicable viruses are identified, such as norovirus.

The Welsh Government will ask its Technical Advisory Group to look at results of early trials of the machines “before any procurement process begins” according to BBC.

Plaid Cymru Health and Care spokesperson Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said,

“The Welsh Government said on Monday they would be providing 1,800 ozone disinfecting machines to schools, colleges and universities throughout Wales at a cost of £3m.”

“They now seem to have performed quite a spectacular U-turn following serious concerns by medical professionals and scientists about the safety of these machines – now claiming they only “considered” their use and have not even begun the procurement process. Something doesn’t add up.”

“Ozone disinfecting machines clean the air when no-one is in the room and are dangerous to use when people are present.”

“That’s why serious questions need to be asked about the Government’s judgment in deciding to roll out these particular machines into our schools, colleges and universities – a few days before students begin returning after the summer break.”

“What certainty have they been given that this brand-new technology – that hasn’t been fully trialled yet – is safe to use in these settings?”

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Education, Laura Anne Jones MS, said: “Anything that can be done to keep students in classrooms and minimise disruption is welcome, but using ozone disinfecting machines in schools raises some serious concerns.”

“Spraying a toxic chemical in classrooms is a controversial move, and we need assurances from the Welsh Government that this is a safe thing to do.

“I understand that nobody will be in the room when these machines are operating, but as ozone can damage the lungs if inhaled, we need confirmation of what robust measures are going to be put in place to stop someone coming into contact with it.”

Dr Chedly Tizaoui of Swansea University, part of the team who designed the ozone disinfection machine, said: “I am delighted that the ozone technology we developed at Swansea University will support efforts to eradicate Covid-19 in Wales.”

“Reducing the spread of coronavirus in our educational institutions is vitally important, so our children and students can get back to the classroom.”

“Ozone is potent against Covid-19 virus and due to its gaseous nature, it kills the virus whether be it airborne or adhered to a surface.”

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