COVID bio-medical waste a major challenge for hospitals

New Delhi: Amid sudden influx of Coronavirus patients in various hospitals across the Delhi-NCR, disposal of COVID bio-medical waste is becoming a major challenge for these hospitals. From Personal Protection Equipments (PPEs), testing kits, gloves, masks, bags, goggles used by medical staff to waste from treatment of quarantined patients, the hospitals have been claiming to make all-out effort to dispose off the waste generated.

Environmental activists, however, suggest full compliance of Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016, besides other measures to minimise the impact on environment. The National Green Tribunal (NGT), raising concern over the issue, has also directed the concerned agencies to make serious efforts to mitigate possible risk in terms of unscientific disposal of bio-medical waste.

As per the environmental activists and medical experts, scientific disposal of COVID bio-medical waste is very much required by following all aspects of liquid and solid waste management, instead of the generated waste getting straightaway mixed with other municipal solid waste, causing contamination.

"To avoid any risk, the need of the hour is to adhere to the strict guidelines but unfortunately many of the hospitals and even states are not willing to follow the same. There is a need to create awareness through programmes, training in concerned local bodies, health departments, providing workers with adequate protective gear, adequate coordination with media and other regulatory authorities," said Vikrant Tongad, a Delhi-based environmental activist.

"The guidelines to ensure that the waste generated during testing and treatment of COVID-19 patients is disposed of scientifically, including human tissues, items contaminated with blood, body fluids like dressings, cotton swabs, beddings contaminated with blood or body fluid, blood bags, needles and syringes, are being followed. All COVID-19 disposals are made in double-layered bags to ensure there are no leaks.

We are following the CPCB guidelines of collecting and storing COVID-19 specific biomedical waste separately before it goes to Common Bio-medical Waste Treatment Facility (CBWTF). Biomedical waste collected in COVID-19 isolation wards is to be lifted directly from the ward into CBWTF collection van along and a separate record of such waste generated needs to be kept," said Sujith, chief of Nursing Services of Columbia Asia Hospital.

"Waste management is one of the most critical. To safeguard and protect from the infection, we are strictly following the guidelines. Dual-layered yellow bags, separate elevators and trolleys, COVID stickers are used for waste disposal. For operational efficiency in waste management, we have also taken services of a bio-chemical disposal agency," said Dr Prashant Vashistha from Manipal Hospitals in Dwarka.

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