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COVID-19 quarantine area waste piles high in Ho Chi Minh City

COVID-19 quarantine area waste piles high in Ho Chi Minh City

Thursday, June 03, 2021, 12:56 GMT+7
COVID-19 quarantine area waste piles high in Ho Chi Minh City
A worker sprays disinfectant to a truck carrying waste related to COVID-19 in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Le Phan / Tuoi Tre

Garbage generated by COVID-19 quarantine areas is becoming a great concern for Ho Chi Minh City as it is in near excess of the city’s treatment capacity. 

Cao Van Tuan, head of the department of environmental technology and quality control at Ho Chi Minh City Urban Environment Co. Ltd. (CITENCO), said on Wednesday afternoon that the amount of waste related to COVID-19 was increasing rapidly.

“Since city authorities requisitioned the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City’s dormitory [to turn it into a COVID-19 quarantine facility] and isolated several areas due to infections, the daily garbage discharged from such places has become hazardous waste,” Tuan explained.

“While the amount of waste in the previous infection waves was only six to seven metric tons per day, including medical waste, now it has soared to nearly 40 metric tons a day."

According to Tuan, the hazardous waste treatment plant that his company operates can only handle 42 metric tons per day and night. 

If the amount of coronavirus-related waste continues to surge, it will overload the treatment plant, leading to a backlog which could endanger the environment.

CITENCO proposed that Ho Chi Minh City authorities create guidelines for the handling of  COVID-19-related waste in order to avoid the risk of spreading the disease in the community through garbage.

In the immediate future, Tuan suggested that city leaders guide local authorities in encouraging people in centralized quarantine centers and locked-down areas to separate medical waste from domestic discharge in order to reduce the amount of hazardous waste sent to the incineration plant.

Such waste as face masks and protective gear will be treated separately according to regulations, while the rest can be sent to landfills to be treated by burying and destroying, similarly to the handling of waste from livestock and poultry epidemics.

CITENCO is also equipping its workers with protective gear and has plans to get them vaccinated in the future.

Currently, the city has two concentrated COVID-19 quarantine centers run by the military, five at the city level, 23 at the district level, and 42 hotels with paid quarantine services, offering a total of 10,481 beds, according to the municipal health department.

The local health sector has also coordinated with relevant units to establish more concentrated isolation facilities with a combined capacity of 19,520 beds, raising the total slots for those required to quarantine to 30,000 in preparation for a widespread outbreak. 

Ho Chi Minh City detected 277 new COVID-19 cases between April 27 and Thursday noon.

The majority of the infections can be traced back to a religious mission in Go Vap District.

The southern metropolis reinstated enhanced social distancing on Monday, with stringent measurers slated to last 15 days.

Vietnam had logged 7,972 patients as of noon on Thursday, according to the Ministry of Health.

Recoveries have reached 3,085 while the death toll has hit 49.

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