An Emory University infectious disease specialist says he has serious concerns that police could be spreading the coronavirus by spraying tear gas on demonstrators.
Mass arrests and confining people in small spaces dramatically increases the risk of infecting others with the coronavirus, Dr. Jay Varkey said Friday.
Tear gas and other chemical agents causes people to rub their eyes, putting demonstrators at risk of being infected, Varkey said.
“When I see the wide use of things like tear gas or pepper bombs that by its nature cause people to immediately rub their eyes, that causes me tremendous consternation in terms of the risk of what that could cause in terms of infection transmission during a pandemic,” Varkey said.
“From a public health standpoint, I don’t know whether law enforcement is actively looking at agents other than tear gas or pepper bombs,” he said. “As a physician, do I think they should? Yes, absolutely.”
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