Context: In Turkey, cologne/Kolonya, a liquid solution is rapidly disappearing from shelves, amid COVID-19 outbreak.

More about the news:

  • Like many other parts of the world, Turkey has been issuing social distancing and lockdowns instructions along with hygiene advisories to ward off the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  • However, there is one difference in how the Turkish people are tackling the outbreak. 
  • Unlike most other countries, where soap and hand sanitisers have become highly sought-after hygiene products, it is cologne in Turkey.

About cologne:

  • Eau de Cologne, or simply cologne, is a perfume that originated in the Cologne city in Germany, and has for more than a century been a highly popular accessory in Turkey.
  • Cologne became popular in the country due to its 19th century Ottoman ruler Abdul Hamid II. 
    • The Sultan was exceedingly fond of the perfume, and would carry bottles everywhere with him. 
    • Soon, the accessory became part of Turkish lifestyle and crept into Turkish vocabulary, getting ‘Kolonya’ as its local name.
    • Today, the aroma is popularly referred to as the country’s national scent, and is recognised as a symbol of Turkish health and hospitality.
  • Made from ingredients such as jasmine, rose, and fig blossoms, and has a high content of ethanol.
  • To this day, many restaurants and patrons spray cologne on visitors’ hands before serving them, and it is even sprinkled at hospitals and religious services.

Efficacy of Cologne against coronavirus:

  • Particles of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) are spherical and have proteins called spikes protruding from their surface, which invade human cells.
  • A fatty layer that holds the spikes together is disrupted when it comes into contact with soap or a hand sanitiser with more than 60 per cent alcohol. This disruption causes the virus to come undone, and kills it.
  • Cologne high content of alcohol (around 60 per cent) is known to be effective in killing off germs, and thus serves as a useful hand disinfectant. 
  • While more expensive than soap or hand sanitiser, Kolonya’s fragrance attracts customers.