Messed up: Covid waste dumped in open at Civil Hospital

Used PPE kits, beddings, empty meal packs of patients pose grave danger to lives of city residents

Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, May 13

At a time when the cases are seeing a surge and all sorts of precautions are needed to snap the chain of contact, the district administration and the Civil Hospital authorities seem to have miserably failed in handling the waste emanating from the wards.

Safety gear, after a year

  • After a span of almost a year, the Municipal Corporation has started giving out two pairs of rubber gloves, two washable cotton double-layer masks and 100 ml of sanitiser bottles to its 2,400 staff engaged with the Sanitation Department
  • Dr Shri Krishna said: “We recently got the protective gear from the government (not the PPE kits) and have started distributing this material to the staff for their safety. We have been insisting upon all of them to take vaccination for their safety but still many are not ready to take it.”

The waste, which includes used PPE kits, beddings of the deceased patients, empty meal packs given to the patients, coconut shells, etc can be seen lying along the passage hardly 50 yards away from the Covid-19 testing centre and the Mother and Child Care unit of the Civil Hospital. The volume of the waste, which according to the staff has been lying for the past three days, has been piling up.

This mound is now spilling onto the passage from where hundreds of patients and their attendants walk by on daily basis. Stray dogs which tend to feed on this waste can be seen further leading to spread of the infection. The onlookers too were seen commenting that it was sheer carelessness on the part of the staff to throw the waste and risk the lives of the people like that. “If the staff cannot handle on its own, how can the authorities then act against private hospitals for any similar mismanagement?” questioned Subhash Sood, an attendant of a patient at the hospital.

Cleaning up somebody’s mess

The Municipal Corporation authorities maintain that even though it is the obligation of the Civil Hospital authorities to handle the waste on their own but they were still helping them off and on. “Ideally, any office or organisation which produces more than 50 kg of waste daily is expected to manage its waste on own by various processes, including segregation, setting up pits, etc. We are not expected to lift but we are still doing it for them whenever they ask for it. Now, that you have pointed it out, we will send a vehicle tomorrow to collect the waste,” said Dr Shri Krishna, Municipal Health Officer.

He, however, added, “The bio-medical waste generated by the hospital, including PPE suits, masks, etc have to be segregated which their staff sometimes does not do. This is to be picked up by vehicles of a company managing the waste from the hospitals for the PPCB and disposing it off in an incinerator.”

600 MC garbage pickers at risk

Ever since the second wave of virus began, there has been no plan with the Municipal Corporation to handle the Covid-19 waste being generated at homes.

The government stopped pasting stickers outside the Covid-affected houses, and now nearly 600 door-to-door garbage picking staff is clueless as to which house has Covid patients with home isolation.

Neither list of the Covid-affected houses is provided to the safai karamcharis nor any supervisors who can ensure that the garbage pickers do not mistakenly turn up and there is no such mixing and direct contact for them.

Since the Municipal Corporation’s plan to segregate waste has gone completely haywire since the last year, the garbage pickers can be seen separating the domestic waste, including used masks with bare hands. The MC does not have any separate vehicles to pick the Covid-19 waste from the affected houses. Its staff is no longer getting any PPE kits while collecting waste from the Civil Hospital or infected households.

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