Indian migrant workers returning to their homes were filmed being sprayed with a “chemical” disinfectant by officials.
The footage, which has been viewed more than 1.1 million times after it was uploaded by a Times of India journalist, shows a group of Indian workers sitting on the floor as officials dressed in hazmat suits spray the “chemical solution” on them.
The migrant workers were understood to be returning to the city of Bareilly, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown of India on March 25 because of the coronavirus pandemic, prompting millions of Indians to return to their home villages.
The country’s 1.3 billion people have been told to stay indoors until April 15 in a bid to stop the pandemic from spreading.
According to the Times of India, the sanitizing team sprayed the group with a diluted mixture of sodium hypochlorite.
Chemical disinfectants are used on surfaces and public transport, but according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) putting disinfectant on your skin will not kill it if the virus is already in your body and the chemicals are harmful.
An investigation into the incident has been launched, the district magistrate of Bareilly, Nitish Kumar said.
While Lav Agarwal, senior official at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said officials involved in the incident have been "reprimanded," adding that spraying migrant workers was not a "required" policy in the country.
He blamed it on the “over zealousness of officials who acted out of fear.”
The video has been widely shared online, including by Indian politician Priyanka Gandhi who called it an “inhuman act.”
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