The Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, has said that safe handling and final disposal of medical and hazardous waste generated by health facilities during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are a vital element in an effective emergency response.
Abubakar said this on Wednesday in Abuja, that the current pandemic may have a big influence on the nation’s approach to pollution, moving forward.
“During such an outbreak, like the COVID-19, many types of additional medical and hazardous waste are generated, including infected masks, gloves and other protective equipment, together with a higher volume of non-infected items of the same nature,” he said.
He said that government was treating waste management; medical, household and other hazardous wastes, as urgent and essential public service to minimise possible secondary impacts on health of Nigerians and the environment.
Abubakar said that poor management of these wastes could cause unforeseen effects on people’s health and their environment.
“Effective management of biomedical and healthcare waste requires appropriate identification, collection, separation, storage, transportation, treatment and disposal, as well as important associated aspects including disinfection, personnel protection and training,” he explained.
He stressed that the safe management of household waste was also likely to be critical to the COVID-19 emergency.
“Medical waste such as contaminated masks, gloves, used or expired medicines, and other items can easily become mixed with domestic garbage, but should be treated as hazardous waste and disposed of separately.
“These should be separately stored from other household waste streams and collected by specialist municipality or waste management operators,” he advised.
The minister admonished Nigerians on the need for collective efforts to fight against the virus and minimize the human and economic impacts of COVID-19 in the country.
He urged Nigerians to ensure that waste management was given the needed attention, by prioritising it, to minimize impacts of wastes streams on their health and the environment.