Disinfection of surfaces & managing COVID-19 waste at home: norms by WHO and Government of India
Updated: May 11
In the wake of rising COVID-19 cases across the country, it is easy to get panicked or feel depressed. But honestly, there is hope. If all of us take necessary precautions, get vaccinated and stay positive it is possible to prevent the deadly infection and fight it.
Typically, COVID-19 symptoms fall into three categories of mild, severe, and critical. The good news is that more than 81% of patients experience mild symptoms and recover fully with a slight fever and minor symptoms. Such patients do not need hospital care and can recover within 2 weeks of proper home quarantine and isolation.
When in-home isolation it is paramount that you sanitize your surroundings well and discard the infected waste responsibly. Also, avoid sharing rooms and bathrooms with the infected family member. Anyone encountering your refuse will be at high risk of infection. Please note segregation of waste is the same, dry, wet, and sanitary. An addition is that waste from COVID-19 homes are treated as a biohazard.
The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India and WHO recommends,
1. Cleaning and disinfecting touched surfaces frequently with 1% Sodium Hypochlorite Solution. These surfaces include patient’s room surfaces such as bed frames, tables, chairs, etc.
2. Toilet surfaces need to be cleaned daily with a household bleach solution or phenolic based disinfectants. Taps, doorknobs, and other surfaces need to be cleaned frequently with soap and water. Although, it is best to avoid sharing a bathroom with the infected patient.
3. Used objects, utensils, clothes, linens, bedsheets, covers etc need to be thoroughly washed with soap and water. Masks used by patients and caregivers need to be changed every 6-8 hours and disposed of in yellow non-chlorinated bags. Disposable masks should not be reused. Before discarding masks, they need to be disinfected with ordinary 5% bleach solution or 1% sodium hypochlorite solution and then either burnt or buried deep in the soil.
Here are a few important guidelines shared by PPCB (Punjab Pollution Control Board) for safe handling and disposal of biomedical waste while home isolation:
1. Used masks, gloves and other waste generated during home quarantine/ isolation should be kept in a paper bag for at least 72 hours before disposing of the same as general waste. It is prudent to follow this step as sanitation workers and others coming in contact might be at high risk.
2. In addition to the treatment of bleach or hypochlorite solution to used masks and gloves, it is advisable to cut or tear them off before disposal so that no one else reuses them.
3. While disposing of, it is advisable to mark the waste bag as ‘COVID-19’ so that sanitization workers are aware and take sufficient care while handling. It is advisable to use a yellow colour garbage bag labelled as ‘Biohazard’, which can then be disposed of by authorised vendors.
It is a challenging situation the whole world is dealing with, but we must remember that to curb COVID-19, we all must work as a community and be more responsible.
While it is important to take precautions ourselves, we must also be conscious if our actions or mistakes can put others at risk.
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