Helping hands solve medical waste problem

By CAO DESHENG in Wuhan | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-03-10 08:44

Offers of assistance relieve burden in Wuhan

Editor's note: Novel coronavirus pneumonia is posing a worldwide threat. Here, we take a look at how China is playing its role in the global fight against the outbreak by mobilizing a vast amount of resources to contain the epidemic. This is the fourth part of a series titled "United Actions".

Gong Shunguang, who is responsible for managing the temporary storage of medical waste at a hospital in the epicenter of the novel coronavirus pneumonia outbreak, has been overburdened in recent weeks.

He has seen a sharp increase in the amount of such waste collected from the wards at Wuhan No 1 Hospital in Hubei province since early last month, when it became a designated facility for treating critically ill patients infected with the virus.

Gong said the quantity of medical waste generated at the hospital had risen from less than 1.7 metric tons a day before the outbreak to about 4 tons a day.

Due to the epidemic, he said he is now more careful when moving containers of waste to avoid health risks and potential environmental hazards.

The hospital is one of 48 medical facilities designated to treat infected patients in Wuhan, the city hardest hit by the epidemic. An additional 16 temporary hospitals were set up in conference halls and sports stadiums in the city.

As of Sunday, 49,948 confirmed cases had been reported in the city, accounting for over 60 percent of the total on the Chinese mainland.

No official statistics have been made available for the amount of medical waste generated daily by the city's healthcare facilities since the start of outbreak. However, insiders estimate that the figure has risen by at least twofold.

Yang Fan, general manager at Wuhan Hanshi Environmental Engineering Co, the only company authorized to dispose of medical waste in the city, said his business faced huge challenges from Jan 10 to the middle of last month, as the amount of waste from hospitals exceeded the company's treatment capacity.

He said the company has a daily disposal capacity of 50 metric tons-sufficient to fully meet demand before the contagion hit the city.

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