Problems and concerns have risen over biomedical waste generated by hospitals and healthcare centers while treating Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) patients, doctors, and workers who handle this waste. New rules and revised guidelines were published by CPCB advising citizens and healthcare workers to be extra careful.
The Central Pollution Control Board has asked individuals to not only cut and store used masks and gloves for 72 hours before disposing of them but also directed commercial business buildings like malls and offices to follow the same rules while discarding protective personal equipment. The public was made aware of the need for keeping waste masks and gloves in paper bags for a minimum of 3 days before disposing of them. CPCB also stated that leftover food products, packets, water bottles used by people that have been affected by COVID shouldn’t be collected with other bio-medical waste rather should be collected with general solid waste and given to waste collectors. It also mentioned that yellow-colored bags should not be used for general solid waste since they represent bio-medical waste from COVID-19. Along with this, the CPCB recommends the use of biodegradable cutlery that should be handled with precautions and disinfected according to each hospital’s guidelines for minimizing the production of waste. The CPCB also stated that isolation wards along with healthcare facilities like rail coaches should keep different colored-coded dustbins for maintenance of segregation of waste. They should use a separate bin for collecting and storing waste generated by COVID-19 patients by using double-layered disinfect bags. For COVID-19 isolation wards, types of equipment like goggles, face-shields, aprons, coveralls made if plastic, hazmat suits, gloves, etc must be collected together and stored separately in a red bag. However, used N95 mask, disposable linen gowns, head caps, should be collected in yellow bags along with used tissues and toiletries of COVID-19 patients. The guidelines included that General solid waste must include waste generated from the kitchen, packaging materials, waste food peels, waste papers, plastics, disposable utensils used by quarantined people, and COVID-19 patients who are quarantined at home. Every quarantine center will be required to designate a person who will shoulder the responsibility of the management of waste and maintenance of important records. These people made responsible must register the center on CPCB’s biomedical waste tracking app called ‘COVID19BWM’ and keep updating waste management details on an everyday basis.