The world will be drowning in medical waste in 2020 due to the corona virus (COVID-19) and this mounting medical waste from COVID-19 emphasizes the need for a sustainable waste management strategy. Spreading of COVID-19 pandemic throughout the country on a large scale will lead to the generation of waste of use and throw items required to combat the spread of the virus. Properly managed disposal of these items is highly important not only to save the environment but also the people.
There is a need to manage waste generated during treatment of COVID-19 in healthcare facilities across the country, including quarantine sites. Waste of medical and other items like masks, PPE, testing kits, sanitizer containers etc. all need to be discarded after their use and this will put a pressure on their proper disposal. Government agencies are always issuing regulatory and safety guidelines monitoring the outbreak of COVID-19 (formally known as novel corona virus, 2019-nCoV) and particular developments have been made in infection control related to the proper management of medical waste generated during treatment of patients infected with the virus.
Guidelines to residents
First of all the residents should comply with the following tips to help manage waste during the COVID-19 curfew.
Waste management during COVID -19
Strict guidelines have been issued that medical waste generated in the treatment of COVID-19 patients and patients under investigation (PUIs) is managed in accordance with routine procedures. There are no additional packaging or transportation requirements for regulated medical waste or sharps. These guidelines are based on current knowledge on COVID-19 and existing practices in management of infectious waste generated in hospitals while treating viral and other contagious diseases like HIV, H1N1, etc. The proper packaging guidelines for regulated medical waste and sharps are:
Health and safety precautions for waste workers
Accordingly, there is a need to ensure the health and safety precautions of waste workers as they are one of the most important sanitary barriers to keep cities and people safe from several diseases, including COVID-19. Current scientific research has not provided evidence that waste management is a vector for the transmission of SARS-CoV2 virus, but considering waste workers are everyday on the streets despite isolation and quarantine measures that are taken for the whole population, additional measures should be considered as the following:
• Strict adherence to enhanced hygiene norms, including frequent change and cleaning of PPE and professional clothing; replacing professional gloves in the event of breakage or any incident of potential contamination; sanitizing regularly facilities, vehicle cabins and other equipment. An important measure here is to make sure that where masks are usually worn, the workers are removing masks and gloves without getting in contact with them. This means using correct techniques for putting the mask on and taking it off.
• Adaptation (as much as possible and considering the particularities of the waste collection systems) of the behavior in order to avoid contamination between workers in teams like strict respect of the distance between people, limiting as few as possible workers in the same area (control room, canteens, changing rooms) and all precautionary measures helping at preserving health of workers in safe occupational conditions.
• Direct contact (without gloves) with bins or bags should be avoided in any case. Uniforms should be daily changed or cleaned - cleaning of work clothes and shoes is minimizing the possibility of dispersing the virus and limiting its transmission.