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China’s home appliance queen claims her air purifier can kill the coronavirus

China’s home appliance queen claims her air purifier can kill the coronavirus
Gree says the air purifier has been tested in hospitals in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the initial outbreak. (Picture: Gree)

With the Covid-19 pandemic showing no signs of abating, China’s biggest home appliance maker -- helmed by nationally famous businesswoman Dong Mingzhu -- has launched a new air purifier that it says can kill coronaviruses.

Gree’s 12,000-yuan (US$1,700) gadget is a plasma air cleaner -- a type of purifier that ionizes gases and creates particles that remove some harmful allergens. But that doesn't necessarily mean it kills the virus. In controlled laboratory settings, it's been shown to kill or deactivate airborne microorganisms, but that only includes bacteria, not viruses. Still, Gree claims that its air purifier can kill 99% of the novel coronavirus in a room within an hour because it has a filter that maintains a temperature of over 56°C (133°F).

Even if the air purifier does what it claims, that doesn’t mean you can dispense with basic hygiene practices. Health agencies around the world, such as the US CDC and Hong Kong’s Department of Health, maintain that the new coronavirus spreads mostly through close contact between people and respiratory droplets from a sick person. Social distancing and frequent hand washing are the most recommended precautions. An expert from China’s CDC says wearing a mask is still the safest protective measure in any high-risk environment.

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