The Sindh Environmental Protection Agency has issued certain guidelines for handling and disposal of the waste generated by hospitals dealing with COVID-19 patients.
It has been done on the instructions of Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab. The guidelines have been issued under section 6 (1) of the Sindh Environmental Protection Act, 2014.
It says every hospital owner, occupier and the operator shall be responsible for the management of hospital waste from COVID-19 patients generated by it till its final disposal.
“The generator of waste need to have administrative rules and engineering controls, environmental hygiene, correct work practices and appropriate use of PPE to prevent infections,” said the newly issued guidelines.
What are the guidelines?
A press statement issued by the SEPA spokesperson explained what measures are to be taken to dispose COVID-19 waste.
The idea is to transport the waste from the room (patient’s room or facility) where it is generated into the interim storage room and ultimately to the designated waste area. From this designated area of the hospital, the waste then will be treated onsite or prepped for transportation offsite for treatment.
The guidelines also restrict that all waste be packed in thick plastic bags and tied properly. Sharp needles must be in hard packing to avoid a breach of plastic bags and the tied bag should be kept in another plastic bag.
Thick plastic bags are to be kept in hard closed containers. The plastic bags inside must not be visible from outside. The weight of one container shall not exceed 10kgs. The container shall be labeled as COVID-19 waste. A record shall be maintained for all number of bags and containers filled with waste for transportation.
The inner and outer surface of containers/bins/trolleys used for COVID-19 waste storage should be disinfected with 1% sodium hypochlorite solution at least three times in a day. Treatment methods may also include autoclaving, incineration and chemical disinfection. A dedicated team of workers assigned to handle this waste shall be available for the collection and handling of this waste.
A record should be maintained for the number of trips made mentioning the quantities received from each collection. Vehicles should be sanitised with sodium hypochlorite or other appropriate disinfectants after each trip. The waste shall be disposed immediately after being received at the incineration facility.
The workers must be tested for COVID-19 every alternate day. Workers with symptoms such as cough, fever or illness should not be allowed to transport the waste and they must sanitize themselves on entry into the hospitals, quarantine centers, and waste disposal facilities every time they enter.
A double chamber incinerator must be used.
“Both waste loading and ash removals should be automatic. It should have an appropriate emission control system. Staff working on it should be trained and use PPEs. Ash of incinerator should be disposed of in the scientifically designated landfill,” concluded the referred guidelines.