By Shyam Sundar Vattam
One of the major challenges in the treatment of COVID-19 patients has been the disposal of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits used by doctors, paramedics and nurses in Covid Care Centres and designated Government and Private Hospitals.
A few months ago, the State Government came under fire for dumping the used PPE kits on outskirts of cities. This made the Government to prescribe the guidelines for the safe disposal of PPE kits as it contained the virus that can spread to those who touch it accidentally.
The national capital of India, Delhi, is facing the problem of disposing of PPE kits which are dumped by people at crematorium and burial ground after attending last rites of their near and dear ones who died of Corona.
Recently, there was a hue and cry when a used PPE kit was found dumped on the KRS road. Residents heaved a sigh of relief after it was cleared by Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) staff by following the safety norms.
In Mysuru, over 1,000 PPE kits are used daily by doctors, paramedical staff, nurses, attendants of Home Quarantine patients and people attending funeral of Corona positive patients. It is really interesting to know how the used PPE kits are disposed. Dr. D. G. Nagaraj, MCC Health Officer, spoke to Star of Mysore this morning on procedures followed in the safe disposal of PPE kits. Excerpts. — Ed
Star of Mysore: Disposal of used PPE kit is said to be one of the most difficult jobs in COVID-19 treatment. How is the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) managing this?
Dr. D.G. Nagaraj: The Union Health Ministry has issued strict guidelines, especially for the disposal of used PPE kits due to chances of contracting the virus by mere touch of it. There are instances of people testing Corona positive for not taking precaution in the disposal of PPE kit. A few months ago, somebody had dumped the kit on KRS Road after attending the funeral of the Corona positive patient. The MCC authorities rushed to the spot and picked it by taking all precautions. Since then we are very careful in dealing with the PPE kits.
Star of Mysore: Who will collect the used PPE kits? Whether MCC or some other agency?
Dr. Nagaraj: Hitherto, the MCC was collecting it from the Government and Private Hospitals. Subsequently, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) appointed two agencies exclusively for the collection of PPE kits, gloves and other items used by doctors, paramedics, nurses, health volunteers and citizens as per standard practice. Their job is mainly to visit all the Government and Private Hospitals, Covid Care Centres, Designated Covid Hospitals and individual houses (where patients are under Home Quarantine). These are categorised as bio-medical waste that need to be disposed of as per standard procedure. After collecting them, they are kept separately in red bag and disinfected once again before burning them in incinerator.
Star of Mysore: What about leftover food, paper plates and paper cups used by Corona positive patients? Who will take care of it?
Dr. Nagaraj: This is called as wet waste which is taken care of by the MCC. There are dedicated vehicles and personnel who visit all the Government and the Private Hospitals, houses of isolated patients in home two times in a day to collect leftover food, paper plates and paper cups used by COVID-19 patients and collected separately in yellow bag. Then they are taken to far off places where they are disposed scientifically. While two agencies look after PPE kits, gloves and masks, the MCC will deal with leftover food and others used of Corona positive patients. The people involved in this job take every precaution to protect them from contracting the virus. This job is quite a challenge but we are managing it without any laxity. The MCC has fixed charges for the collection of wet waste from Private Hospitals depending upon its bed strength.
Star of Mysore: People are throwing used face mask on roadsides in almost every city. Is this problem prevailing in Mysuru. If so what steps have you taken to address this?
Dr.Nagaraj: We faced this problem during initial days of outbreak of Corona with citizens throwing the used face masks everywhere without understanding its impact. Subsequently, the reusable face mask entered the market and people started buying them than the single use mask. This has reduced the problem to great extent. In fact, the rate of reusable mask is cheaper than that of single use mask. Now, people buy reusable mask — use, wash and wear them. But still there are people who dump the used face mask in public places. The MCC has appealed to the citizens to put the used face masks in separate covers and handover to Pourakarmikas so that the covers are kept separately and disposed scientifically.
Star of Mysore: Delhi is learnt to be facing problem of disposing the used PPE kits. Is this problem prevailing in Mysuru too?
Dr. Nagaraj: Luckily, we are in a better position especially in dealing with these bio-medical wastes. The PPE kits used by people in crematorium and burial ground are collected by the MCC staff, stored separately in red bags and then handed over to agencies concerned. Deputy Commissioner Rohini Sindhuri and MCC Commissioner Gurudatta Hegde have evolved a separate mechanism to deal with this dry waste disposal. Now, everything is going smoothly due to co-operation of two agencies.