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Hospital biomedical waste during Covid-19 increased by 5-6 times: UN expert

By Our Representative
A senior United Nations expert on waste management has raised the alarm that while before the Covid-19 outbreak, a government or a private hospital would typically produce 500 grams of biomedical waste like syringes, urine bags, gauze, etc) per bed, daily, now, that number has gone up to between 2.5 kg to 4 kg per bed.
Quoting Common Bio-medical Waste Treatment and Disposal Facility (CBWTF) data of Delhi, Swati Singh Sambyal, waste management specialist, UN Habitat Centre India, speaking on existing challenges and best practice of Covid-19 waste management in India, said, this waste is not limited to hospitals. Isolation homes or quarantine centres also contribute to this, which, she said, is becoming a major problem in managing and dealing with waste.
Participating in a webinar organized by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi, Sambyal stated, multifold challenges exist due to the waste, including availability of workers and staff for collection and disposal of CBWTF, huge quantity of general mixed with infected Covid-19 waste at quarantine centres and isolation wards, expressing concern for frontline warriors who manage these waste as they are more vulnerable to coronavirus.
Prof Brajesh Kumar Dubey, associate professor, civil engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, said that there is a sharp increase generation in plastic waste during Covid-19 crisis, with major reasons being online delivery, panic buying, stockpiling, and PPE disposal, adding, single used plastics like gloves, masks, and aprons are high in demand among the customers and there is not waste management of it.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Keith Alverson, director, International Environmental Centre, United Nations Environment Programme, Japan, said that during Covid-19, said that issues that need answering include as to whom should one address the challenge the waste management, and who takes the responsibility to control it. Others who spoke included Dr Simi Mehta, CEO, IMPRI; Sameer Unhale, additional commissioner, Ulhasnagar corporation; and Dr Arjun Kumar, director, IMPRI.

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