Representational Image Credit: Representational image

New Delhi: The Centre has announced that the disposal of bio-medical waste, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kit worn by healthcare professionals as well as general public became a challenge during the on-going Corona Virus Disease of 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Announcing this, while giving reference to information released by the Central Pollution Control Board, Union minister of state (health and family welfare), Ashwini Kumar Choubey, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha said that the public health’ being a State subject, information relating to increase in COVID-19 cases among individuals employed in garbage collection and disposal, due to mismanagement in disposal of bio-medical waste including PPE kit etc., is not Centrally maintained.

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Medical kits and medicine packets of COVID-19 positive patients

As per Bio-medical Waste Management (BMWM) Rule, 2016, waste generated from healthcare facilities is required to be treated and disposed as per provisions under said rules. CPCB has also prepared guidelines, which gives guidance on handling, treatment & disposal of bio-medical waste in line with provisions under BMWM Rules, 2016.

Further, CPCB issued separate guidelines for ‘Handling, Treatment & Disposal of bio-medical waste generated during Treatment/Diagnosis/Quarantine of COVID-19 patients’ which gives guidance on management of COVID-19 related bio-medical waste including used masks and gloves. These guidelines were initially issued on 19.03.2019 and later revised on 17.07.2020.

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Medical waste

As per CPCB Guidelines, used PPEs like face shields, goggles, hazmat suit, plastic coverall, used masks, head cover, shoe cover etc., generated from COVID-19 isolation wards at healthcare facilities shall be segregated and sent to common facilities for disposal as per Bio-medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 (BMWM Rules).

“However, used PPEs like masks and gloves generated in Common Households, Commercial Establishments, Institutions, etc., are required to store separately for minimum 72 hours for disposal along with solid waste after cutting or shredding. Such shredded used masks from household can be collected as dry solid waste by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs),” the minister said.

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