The impact of COVID-19 is transforming the way we live from day to day. While national and local responses are mainly concerned with saving lives and the economy, hazardous waste management is equally important for reducing long-term dangers to human and environmental health. The appropriate handling of hazardous waste generated by these operations is becoming a growing issue. Disposal of hazardous wastes is one of the most important methods for preventing other infectious diseases and should not be neglected, but in the current epidemic, disposal presents unique challenges.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on various aspects of our society, especially on waste management. Because waste management in developing nations is often not conducted in line with international regulations, there has been a rise in the quantity of potentially contaminated waste, necessitating extra, careful handling and treatment procedures. The waste generation industry that is most affected by Covid-19 is the disposal of clinical waste. The generation of clinical waste during the outbreak of the pandemic rose drastically.
Clinical waste is listed under Scheduled Waste by the Department of Environment Malaysia in the first schedule. According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 patients’ clinical waste should be safely collected in designated containers and bags, treated, and then safely disposed of or treated, preferably on-site. If waste is carried off-site, it is critical to understand where and how it will be handled and removed. Everyone who handles healthcare waste should wear appropriate PPE (boots, apron, long-sleeved gown, thick gloves, mask, goggles, or a face shield) and practise hand cleanliness after removing the PPE.
With the recent discovery of the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2019, the necessity of appropriate waste management services has become even more sought after. Governments have taken some steps, but they are still insufficient. On the flipside, knowledge of the potential damage from clinical waste has to be instilled, not only among governments, medical professionals, and medical waste handlers, but also, the general public.