In an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the Ministry of Environment has been implementing a four-pronged plan since 31 March: the safe disposal of medical waste, getting rid of solid waste, tracing pollution epicentres, and increasing environmental awareness.
Medical waste was removed and disposed of safely from 1,537 healthcare facilities nationwide in coordination with health directorates, Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad said.
The ministry has been coordinating efforts with the ministries of health and higher education to separate in an accurate manner solid waste from medical waste, Fouad added.
Moreover, the Health Ministry has trained dozens of people on the sustainable management of medical waste in the governorates of Cairo, Gharbiya, Sharqiya, Daqahliya, Beheira, Alexandria, the Red Sea, Qena, Luxor, Ismailia, Suez, Aswan and South Sinai.
At university hospitals employees in charge of medical waste were trained on registering the data of medical waste on the Ministry of Environment’s website. Such efforts were the result of collaboration between the ministries of environment, higher education and scientific research, and communication, Fouad said.
The Ministry of Environment also coordinated with the ministries of tourism and youth and sports on means for the ideal disposal of medical waste at youth hostels and hotels designated for isolation in preparation for opening hotels to receive tourists.
Some 224,881 tons of solid waste were disposed of in Qena, Assiut, Kafr El-Sheikh and Gharbiya governorates. Fouad said her ministry coordinated with the Ministry of Local Development to raise the awareness of cleaning workers on the streets of the preventive measures against the coronavirus.
Villages that were isolated due to coronavirus infections have seen different protocols to get rid of their solid waste, and being treated as hazardous waste, to prevent the infection of waste disposal workers.
Regarding pollution epicentres, Fouad said air pollution dropped in Cairo recently and that the night-time curfew, which reduced vehicles on the streets, decreased sound pollution.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 14 May, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly