Health ministry reviewes waste management guidelines while diagnosis & treatment of COVID-19 patients

The Union health ministry has rolled out the revised guidelines for management of waste generated during the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 suspected or confirmed patients to be followed by all stakeholders.

The stakeholders include isolation wards, quarantine centers, sample collection centers, laboratories, Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and common biomedical waste treatment & disposal facilities. The guidelines also include existing practices under Bio-medical Waste Management (BMWM) Rules, 2016.

The guidelines are based on current knowledge on COVID-19 and existing practices in management of infectious waste generated in hospitals while treating viral and other contagious diseases. Furthering the same, state and central governments have initiated various steps, which include setting up of quarantine centers/camps, isolation wards, sample collection centers and laboratories.

Specific provisions are also incorporated for States not having common Common Biomedical Waste Treatment Facility (CBWTF) and for allowing hazardous waste incinerators to dispose COVID-19 waste.

It is also stipulated that Guidelines brought out by World Health Organisation (WHO), Union health ministry, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and other concerned agencies from time to time may also be referred. Revised guidelines have been stipulated for handling, treatment and disposal of COVID-19 waste at healthcare facilities, quarantine camps/quarantine-homes/ homecare, sample collection centers, laboratories, SPCBs/PCCs, ULBs and CBWTFs.

Healthcare facilities having isolation wards for COVID-19 patients need to follow following steps to ensure safe handling and disposal of biomedical waste generated during treatment like keeping separate color coded bins/bags/containers inwards and maintain proper segregation of waste as per BMWM Rules, 2016 as amended and CPCB guidelines for implementation of BMWM Rules.

As precaution double layered bags (using 2 bags) should be used for collection of waste from COVID-19 isolation wards so as to ensure adequate strength and no-leaks. There should be collection and storage of biomedical waste separately prior to handing over the same CBWTF.

Other guidelines include use of a dedicated collection bin labelled as “COVID-19” to store COVID-19 waste and keep separately in temporary storage room prior to handing over to authorized staff of CBWTF.

Biomedical waste collected in such isolation wards can also be lifted directly from ward into CBWTF collection van.

In addition to mandatory labeling, bags/containers used for collecting biomedical waste from COVID-19 wards, should be labeled as “COVID-19 Waste”. This marking would enable CBWTFs to identify the waste easily for priority treatment and disposal immediately upon the receipt. General waste not having contamination should be disposed as solid waste as per SWM Rules, 2016.

Maintain separate record of waste generated from COVID-19 isolation wards, use dedicated trolleys and collection bins in COVID-19 isolation wards.

The (inner and outer) surface of containers/bins/trolleys used for storage of COVID-19 waste should be disinfected with 1% sodium hypochlorite solution daily. There should be deputation of dedicated sanitation workers separately for biomedical waste and general solid waste so that waste can be collected and transferred timely to temporary waste storage area.

Guidelines for isolation wards should be applied suitably in case of test centers and laboratories also. Less quantity of biomedical waste is expected from quarantine Camps/Quarantine Home/ Homecare facilities. However, the persons responsible for operating quarantine camps/centers/h

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