The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, NESREA, has said it would enforce the guidelines on infectious waste as part of the ongoing efforts by the federal government to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Nigeria.
This was revealed in a statement containing the guidelines tagged, “Guidelines for Handling Infectious Waste Within the Context of Coronavirus (COVID-19),” signed by the NESREA Director General/CEO, Professor Aliyu Jauro.
NESREA stated that in line with international best practice, medical waste generated from the treatment of highly contagious diseases such as COVID-19 can only be managed in accordance with routine practiced since no new regulations have been made to address it.
It therefore advised that waste handlers wear appropriate clothing including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): e.g. boots, aprons, long-sleeve gowns, thick gloves, mask, or face shields; generators are responsible for packaging the waste for transport to treatment facilities; and each containerized infectious waste must be securely closed, among others..
The agency said according to the provisions of the National Environmental (Sanitation and Waste Control) Regulations S.I No.28, 2009, the following are required to be implemented by the health care facilities generating infectious wastes to ensure environmentally sound management: Health care facilities treating COVID-19 patient should provide sealed receptacles for the waste materials; and Contaminated beddings should undergo steam sterilization and patient care wastes should be incinerated.
Others are Disposal Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) used by health workers involved with COVID-19 patients should be incinerated; Only proper kitted workers are allowed to evacuate or transport health care waste from isolations centers; Tertiary health care facilities are obliged to receive the infectious waste for incineration; and Isolation center currently without healthcare waste incinerators should liaise with the nearest tertiary healthcare facilities to incinerate their waste.
NESREA said it would also enforce the provisions of the National Environmental (Chemical Pharmaceuticals, Soap and Detergent Manufacturing Industry) Regulations S.I. No 36, 2009 and the National Environmental (Hazards Chemical and Pesticides) Regulation S.I. 65, 2014.