91MT of COVID-19 waste generated in Thimphu in 10 months

Thimphu alone generated more than 91MT of COVID-19 biomedical waste from March till December last year.

According to data from the infection control and medical waste management division under the Ministry of Health, approximately 85MT of COVID-19 wastes were generated from quarantine facilities in Thimphu alone during the period.

Similarly, around 6MT of COVID-19 wastes were generated from the isolation ward in Thimphu.

An official from the division said that December onward, there has been a daily waste generation of 50-60 kg per day due to extension of isolation wards at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital.

COVID-19 biomedical waste includes Personal Protective Equipment kits, masks, shoe covers, gloves, human tissues, items contaminated with blood, body fluids like dressings, plaster casts, cotton swabs, beddings contaminated with blood or body fluid, blood bags, needles, syringes, food packing materials, empty mineral water bottles, food waste and laboratory testing kits.

According to the division, Thimphu generated the most waste from May to July 2020, due to repatriate fight operation.

The official said that the wastes are collected in the red biohazard bags in hospital and black or blue garbage bags in quarantine facilities.

Officials said that when the bag is ¾ full, the waste is disinfected from the top with 0.5% bleaching solution and the bag tied securely.

An official mentioned that after 10-15 minutes each waste bag is put into a double bag and tied again. Then it is disinfected from outside. After 20 minutes, the waste bag is shifted to the designated room from where the municipal vehicle collects it and then it is reached to the designated land fill for burning or burial or incinerating.

The Standard Operating Procedure for decontamination and disinfection of COVID-19 contaminated area-2nd edition on guidelines in COVID-19 waste management is strictly followed.

As of now, the Greener Way is collecting and disposing the COVID-19 waste in the capital.

According to the official, the overall quantity of COVID-19 waste generated from quarantine facilities in other dzongkhags would be difficult to measure as there are different entities managing the waste.

Dechen Dolker from Timphu