Disposal of biomedical waste including PPE kits worn by healthcare professionals and public became a challenge during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Union Health Ministry told the Rajya Sabha on Sunday.
"As informed by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), 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 ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey said.
The minister was responding to a query by BJP MP Mahesh Poddar in the Upper House over the disposal of biomedical waste during the coronavirus crisis in the country.
On being asked whether COVID-19 cases increased among individuals employed in garbage collection and disposal, the minister said the data is not maintained by the Centre.
"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," Mr Choubey said.
Elaborating on the steps taken by the government for improvement in biomedical waste disposal, the minister said the CPCB has issued separate guidelines for their ''Handling, Treatment and Disposal.
These guidelines -- on management of coronavirus related bio-medical waste including used masks and gloves -- were initially issued on March 19 and later revised on July 17, he said.
"As per CPCB guidelines, used PPEs, like face shields, goggles, hazmat suits, 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 a minimum 72 hours for disposal along with solid waste after cutting or shredding.
"Such shredded used masks from households can be collected as dry solid waste by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs)," the minister told the Rajya Sabha in a written response.
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