Discarded Covid-19 protective materials including masks, hand-gloves and medical wastes have posed a serious health hazard. Though, the authorities of the both city corporations in Dhaka are responsible for the disposal of wastes, blatant negligence and irregularities are noticed in their response.
Experts fear that coronavirus infection may increase in a dangerous way in the coming winter due to lack of awareness. Cleaning workers of both city corporations collect wastes from households and dump these to the Secondary Transfer Station (STS).
The mixing of abandoned PPE with wastes has created panic among people. While talking, some cleaning workers said, though we separate the used PPEs particularly masks and gloves in the yellow bag, the city dwellers are not abiding by it. They are not interested in paying attention in separating used PPEs. There are more than 500 public and private hospitals in the capital.
Apart from Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery (SHNIBPS), there is no medical waste management plant in the city with modern microwave technology. In some hospitals, wastes are burnt with incinerator machines, which are also almost useless. There is no such system for waste treatment anywhere outside Dhaka. DNCC sources said, "The city corporation initially took steps to dispose PPEs in a safe manner. But now, the initiative is being hampered due to lack of response by the people."
Commodore M Saidur Rahman, Chief Waste Management Officer of DNCC told The Asian Age that the city corporation authorities have taken various steps to raise awareness among people. "We carried campaign activities requesting people to keep the abandoned PPEs especially masks, hand-gloves and glasses in their homes so that our people can collect those from there," he further said.
"We have provided masks, PPEs and gloves 4 to 5 times to the waste collectors, but they are reluctant to use these, as they feel uncomfortable. As the second wave commences, we will take stricter steps," he added.
S M Kamrul Hasan, an assistant professor of cardiology at Dhaka Medical College Hospital said, "The carelessness at the time of crisis can lead to tragic consequences. We should put wastes in a covered place and city corporation workers will take those to their places for disposal."
M A Wahed, secretary of Poribesh Bachao Andolon, said, "PPEs are not biodegradable, so it may block drainage systems and obstruct normal flow of water through canals. If masks are thrown randomly, domestic animals like cats and dogs may inhale droplets that masks have and may contaminate humans, which increases the chance of spreading coronavirus."
In Matuail, where dumping is done, people from slums may touch abandoned PPEs that may cause infection. Those, who are working as waste collectors from houses and offices are at high risk of infection.Statistics show that, 206.21 tons of used PPEs are accumulating in Dhaka metropolis every day. More than 49 percent of the capital's residents keep used PPEs with other wastes.
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