Pandemic pushes HCMC to medical waste brink

By Ha An   June 2, 2021 | 03:57 pm PT
Pandemic pushes HCMC to medical waste brink
Employees of the HCMC Urban Environment Company collect trash from a centralized quarantine zone in the city. Photo by VnExpress/Lan Thuong.
The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly increased the amount of medical waste in HCMC's hospitals and quarantine zones to near full capacity, a local company said Wednesday.

The HCMC Urban Environment Company (Citenco), which oversees the collection and treatment of all medical waste in hospitals and centralized quarantine zones in the city, said daily output has increased from 23 tons to 35 tons a day, while the southern metropolis's capacity to treat medical waste amount is 42 tons a day.

If the coronavirus situation isn't resolved soon, collecting and treating all the medical waste would be a challenge for the city, said Cao Van Tuan, head of the firm's environmental technology division. The company has already informed the municipal People's Committee and other relevant authorities about the problem and called for solutions to be devised in case the medical waste output exceeds collection and treatment capacity.

Medical waste in HCMC is currently taken to a waste treatment zone in Hoc Mon District, where they undergo disinfection processes both chemically and thermally. After the trash is burned, the ashes are solidified and buried in a location reserved for hazardous waste.

The southern metropolis has five hospitals for Covid-19 treatment with a total capacity of 970 beds. It operates 72 quarantine facilities with a total capacity of around 10,500 people, not to mention nine extra zones from the military and the Vietnam National University in HCMC, which can increase total capacity to 30,000 beds.

HCMC has so far recorded 258 cases in the country’s latest Covid-19 wave. The city has been placed under a two-week social distancing period starting Monday.

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