Chile, the world’s largest producer of copper, will use nanoparticles of the metal to disinfect voting centers ahead of this weekend’s referendum on changing the constitution, the government said Wednesday.
More than 1,000 tables at 49 centers due to receive more than 335,000 voters in the capital Santiago will be disinfected in this way, the minerals ministry said.
“There have been several studies with different materials and actually copper is the one where coronavirus and other organisms don’t resist for much time,” said Health Minister Enrique Paris.
“That is to say they die, they become inactivated and that’s very important for safety.”
Copper particles have proved effective in destroying bacteria and viruses, including the novel coronavirus. While the virus can survive on plastic or stainless steel for two or three days, and 24 hours on cardboard, it disintegrates in just four hours on copper, according to US studies.
Voting centers will also be provided with disinfectant gel and copper mesh to cover surfaces voters will lean on.
Chile has registered more than 13,700 deaths and almost 500,000 coronavirus cases among its 18 million people.
Citizens will decide on Sunday whether or not to change the constitution that was adopted during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship from 1973-90.