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Essential plastic items help prevent spread of COVID-19

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Plastic items like PPE suits, masks, gloves, sanitiser / handwash / water bottles, shoe / head cover, etc. are proving to be only protective shield for frontline workers

A few months back, most of the plastics were facing severe scrutiny from across the globe for their environmental footprint. But, since the COVID-19 outbreak, plastic items like PPE suits, masks, gloves, sanitiser / handwash / water bottles, shoe / head cover, etc. are proving to be the only protective shield for the frontline workers. Medical professionals and scientists have come forward to educate Indian citizens about the essential plastic items to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 virus while ensuring their safe disposal and recycling /treatment afterward. 

Dr KK Aggarwal, Former President, Indian Medical Association and President – Confederation of Medical Associations of Asia and Oceania said, “To protect the medical workers from COVID-19 infection, we need protective gear which is made from an impermeable and non-porous material such as plastics. Hence, the currently used masks, gloves, protective shields for eyes / face, head and shoe cover, apron etc. are made from plastics. Impermeable material stops viruses containing droplets from touching the skin and the viruses stay on the outer surface of the protective gear. It is also essential that healthcare workers change their personal protective equipment in every eight hours and regularly decontaminate the hospital surfaces. Currently, 40 lakh health workers are fighting against COVID-19 in India. We need 20-25 lakh protective equipment every day to protect the health workers from the infection.”

Prof Ashok K Agarwal, President, Indian Association for Hospital Waste Management and Former Dean, IIHMR, New Delhi said, “Improper handling and disposal of medical waste can put healthcare workers at a higher risk of infection. All biomedical waste needs to be disposed of in colour-coded categories – yellow, red, white, and blue – as per the guidelines stipulated in the Biomedical Waste Management Rules 2016 and by the Centre of Pollution Control Board. These guidelines must be followed studiously to contain the COVID-19 infection. The government should ensure the availability of plastic garbage / disposal bags in hospitals, quarantined, and general households, so the waste can be collected and treated (medical waste) or recycled (general waste).” 

Dr Vijay Habbu, Adjunct Professor, Institute of Chemical Technology said, “The protective equipment such as masks, gloves, PPEs and plastic bags / bottles used in delivering the essentials such as grains, oil, water, etc. must not be carelessly thrown away. They must be properly disposed of, so they can be treated / recycled. The earth is healing itself; it is an ideal time to cut down on non eco-friendly human practices such as littering and utilise this time to strengthen the plastic waste management ecosystem in our country. Scientifically, all types of plastic products / equipment are recyclable, every Indian citizen must know this fact. The responsibility to ensure proper disposal of waste and source segregation is on every Indian citizen. It will help in preventing the highly hazardous practice of waste dumping in landfills / waste bodies and keep our earth clean and green.”

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