Central Pollution Control Board of India (CPCB) has issued fresh guidelines on disposal of COVID-19 waste. It has directed that masks and gloves used, whether infected or not, should be cut and kept in paper bags for a minimum of 72 hours before disposing of them.
Face masks have become the new normal and they are here to stay until a vaccine is developed for the deadly coronavirus infection. However, the constant wearing and disposal of use-and-throw masks, especially in public places like malls and offices, increase the risk of contamination, now that several states in India have accepted community transmission.
The CPCB also directed commercial establishments, shopping malls, institutions and offices to follow the same procedure with discarded protective personal equipment, PPE from the general public.
It also asked to ensure that general solid waste and biomedical waste generated from quarantine centres and quarantine homes are not mixed and they should be collected separately. It added that leftover food, empty juice bottles or tetra packs, empty water bottles, packaging material, and any other items, generated or handled by a COVID-19 patient should be collected along with other general solid waste in bags securely tied for handing over to waste collectors.
The CPCB has also recommended the use of bio-degradable or non-disposable cutlery to minimize waste generation. It directed that isolation wards, including temporary healthcare facilities like rail coaches, must keep separate colour-coded bins to maintain segregation of waste and use a dedicated bin to collect and store COVID-19 waste and keep it separately.
From COVID-19 isolation wards, used PPEs such as goggles, face-shield, splash-proof apron, plastic coveralls, hazmat suits, nitrile gloves must be collected into a red bag.