Here in the US, we are fortunate to have important regulations and codes as it pertains to the storage, shipping and disposal of all types of regulated medical waste. Not all is treated the same. For instance, there is more regulation put on the shipping of Ebola-contaminated waste than, say, the normal waste from your doctor’s office. For everything to run smoothly, it takes a lot of compliance. First. rules have to be put in place from outfits like OSHA and USDOT, and then, of course, those rules must be adhered to by generators and shippers.
The situation in China is different, however. Their waste management “system” has never been uniformly established or resulting regulations directives, followed and executed. Concern is palpable as is evidenced from this piece in Reuters:
The Chinese province at the center of the coronavirus outbreak has almost doubled its medical waste handling capacity after media images of bags of garbage piling up uncovered in hospital yards raised public concerns over secondary infections.
Adding to the pressure on authorities Hubei province, in central China, on Thursday reported a spike in new cases. Provincial health officials said 242 people had died from the flu-like virus on Wednesday, the fastest daily rise in fatalities so far, with another 14,840 new infections after a change in diagnostic methods.
The outbreak is putting China’s relatively unsophisticated waste treatment system to a massive test. An inadequate waste handling capacity in some regions, together with hefty disposal fees, has helped create an illegal medical waste disposal industry.
How far and how fast this virus spreads remains to be seen. However, the magnitude and speed of its reach may be slowed by waste professionals doing their job in every corner of the globe.