The COVID-19 Pandemic has forced the Indian Government to frame more stringent laws relating to disposal of Bio-medical waste. The Central Government under powers conferred by section 6, 8 and 25 published the Bio-medical Waste ManagementRules, 2016 vide notification No. G.S.R.343(E) on 28th March 2016. The same superseded the Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 1998, except in respect of things done or omitted to be done before such supersession.
The guidelines have been revised three times. The latest Revision was published on 21st July 2020, which provides for revised guidance on segregation of general solid waste and bio-medical waste from quarantine centres/home care/healthcare facilities treating COVID-19 patients and recommends disposal of PPE kits.
In addition to existing practices under Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules 2016, the new Guidelines have to be followed by all the stakeholders including isolation wards, quarantine centres, sample collection centres, laboratories, ULBs and common biomedical waste treatment and disposal facilities.
The Revised Guidelines applicable to COVID-19 Isolation wards are set out hereinunder:
The Revised Guidelines also set out the procedure applicable to sample collection centres and laboratories who are duty bound to report opening and operation of COVID-19 sample collection centres and laboratories. Further, the Revised Guidelines prescribe pre-treatment of viral transport media, plastic vials, vacutainers, eppendorf tubes, plastic cryovials, pipette tips as per BMWM Rules, 2016 which are to be collected in red bags.
Responsibilities of persons operating Quarantine Centres/Camps/ Home Quarantine or Home-Care facilities have been fixed by the Revised Guidelines. Further, exhaustive guidelines and duties of the CBWTF with respect to waste collection and disposal of COVID-19 waste have been prescribed.
Specific responsibilities have been placed on urban local bodies, State Pollution Control Board/ Pollution Control Committees and persons operating in Quarantine Camps/ Quarantine Homes/Home-care units. This revision will also help all stake holders in managing, handling and treating and disposing bio-medical waste.