DMPQ-“Covid-19 pandemic has created a a massive challenges of biomedical hazard management.” Comment.

Proper biomedical waste (BMW) management in accordance to the stipulated rule was one of the neglected aspects of health care for years, especially in developing countries like India. Since the BMW Management Rules, 2016 by Government of India (GoI), Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change initiated changes by prescribing simplified categories (color coded) for segregation of different BMWs, an amendment in 2018 also came into force with the aim to improve the compliance to the rules. Nonetheless, proper segregation, handling, and disposal remained a serious concern for health care facilities across India with an annual growth rate of 7% with a projected estimate up to 775.5 tonnes/d by the year 2022.

Amidst the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the scenario might worsen as evidenced by some initial experiences, with piles of personal protective equipment (PPE) accumulating in the hospitals. In spite of the guidelines by World Health Organization and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GoI regarding the rational use of PPE for COVID-19, health care settings are experiencing high demand of PPE from all strata of health care workers owing to the fear of infection. The apprehension is often resulting in the misuse of PPE on many occasions aggravating the problem by generating huge quantity of BMWs which are difficult to store and transport with limited resources and manpower available at the time of crisis. Added to the menace, is the indiscriminate use and disposal of single-use surgical masks (at times N95 respirators) even in the community. Their disposal is often being carried on along with the noninfectious kitchen/general waste from the household and residential areas where color-coded BMW bins are difficult to be found. It is worth mentioning that for the new severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS CoV2) with fomite-borne transmission and yet to be known period of viability on the fomites, the indiscriminate disposal of BMWs in the general garbage provides an easy access to the largely susceptible community.

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