A tonne of Covid biomedical waste disposed of in state in two months
Hospitals, quarantine centres and diagnostic labs in Jharkhand have disposed around a tonne of Covid-19 biomedical waste in two months beginning April, figures compiled by the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) highlights.
As per the data, shared with The Telegraph Online by a highly placed government source, at least 920kg biomedical waste from dedicated Covid-19 health facilities have been disposed of in the state from April 1 to May 31.
In the wake of alleged glitches in the waste management process for biomedical waste produced by Covid facilities, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) started using a dedicated Covid Biomedical Waste Tracking App recently.
The JSPCB, which is the pollution watchdog in Jharkhand, has been updating the figures of Covid-19 biomedical waste on the aforementioned App regularly, an official from the board said. However, the figures in the App are only accessible by the CPCB and various state pollution control boards, he added.
The total figure of 920kg includes yellow category, red category, blue category and black category biomedical waste.
According to recent guidelines issued by the JSPCB on Covid-19 waste management, yellow category of biomedical waste includes anatomical waste, chemical waste, solid waste, chemotherapy waste, discarded linen and medicines and laboratory waste. Contaminated plastic waste is put in the red category, while glass waste and metallic waste are put in blue category. The black category is for sharp metals.
Rajiv Lochan Bakshi, member secretary of JSPCB, said the guidelines issued by the board were followed in most hospitals across Jharkhand. “Most of the hospitals are following our guidelines in Jharkhand,” he said. “We are following all the instructions of the CBPC in disposing Covid medical waste,” he added.
The state government has so far collected samples from over 1 lakh people of the state suspected to have contracted the virus. More than 1,600 of them have tested positive. Besides government-run facilities, some private hospitals too have started conducting tests for Covid infection, health officials said.
Dr Prabhat Kumar, head of the Covid-19 task force in Jharkhand, said that separate bins for Covid waste are being used at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), which is Jharkhand's premier hospital. A Covid-19 sticker is pasted on these bins to ensure the waste is handled carefully, he further said. “We are using separate bins and double-layered bags for Covid medical waste,” he added.
Proper disposal of biomedical waste generated by Covid health facilities is important as the behaviour of virus from infected biomedical waste and deceased patients is yet to be studied, said a doctor working in the isolation ward of RIMS.
A 2019 survey claimed that hospitals produce around 4,700 tonne bio-medical waste annually in Jharkhand but 59 per cent, around 2,700 tonne, is left untreated. The survey was conducted by Delhi-based environmental group Toxics Link in 31 government and private hospitals of Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Dhanbad, Bokaro and Deoghar.