Covid-19: Big increase in clinical waste being carefully handled, says Environment Minister

PETALING JAYA: There has ben a 17% increase in clinical waste in the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but all waste is being handled in the right manner, says Environment Minister Datuk Tuan Man Tuan Ibrahim.

He said the seven companies licensed to handle clinical waste are being strictly monitored by the ministry, from when it is picked-up until it is incinerated at 12 locations nationwide.

The incinerators are managed by seven companies, five companies of which are under government concession, while two others handle clinical waste from private medical facilities.

"During the Covid-19 pandemic from February 2020, the clinical waste of the country has increased by 17%, compared to the monthly average at all institutions with healthcare facilities.

"The Environment Ministry, through the Environment Department, has a comprehensive clinical waste management system since 2005 under the Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations.

"All clinical waste is filtered at the hospitals or clinics, collected, sent by special vehicles to be disposed of at 12 incinerators nationwide," said Tuan Ibrahim, in a statement issued on Thursday (March 26).

He said that all the companies are monitored via the Electronic Scheduled Waste Management System (eSWIS), to ensure proper disposal and adherence to rules.

"Improper handling and disposal of clinical waste is a crime under Section 34B(1)(a) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974, which carries a maximum of five years' jail and a fine of not more than RM500,000 upon conviction," said Tuan Ibrahim.

During Covid-19, medical personnel are also forced to use extra personal protection equipment, which are discarded as clinical waste after a single use.

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