Cape Town – Waste and recycling company, Averda, which has extensive medical waste treatment operations throughout the country has cautioned healthcare facilities to expect a surge in medical waste during the third wave of the pandemic.
Justice Tootla, managing director for Averda South Africa, said they treated over 600 000 tons of Covid-19 waste in January.
Tootla said that represented a significant increase in volumes from previous months which they are used to as a company.
He said only a month prior, in December 2020 at the peak of the second wave, the number was just over 50% less, with 350 415 tons of Covid-19 waste collected and treated.
Tootla said even though February numbers have shown a decrease and were predicted to continue to drop over the next month, healthcare facilities should use the second wave as a baseline in order to prepare itself for the next wave.
“On top of that we need to keep in mind that the medical waste landscape will once again change with a further increase in the volume of ‘sharps’ as a result of the vaccine roll-out,” said Tootla.
He said they have already commenced with preparations for the influx of that type of medical waste and would be able to deal with the increase in demand, the collection of the waste as well as the safe disposal thereof.
Community services and health mayco member Zahid Badroodien said their facilities are prepared to deal with a possible increase in medical waste generation during the next wave.
“We follow a strict waste disposal process that safely disposes of potentially contaminated waste related or unrelated to Covid-19 exposure,” said Badroodien.
Provincial Health Department spokesperson Mark van der Heever said Covid-19 waste was managed in line with departmental standard operating procedures and legislated norms and standards.
He said the department has two licensed contracted service providers responsible for the management of Covid-19 medical waste.
“Staff across all districts are regularly kept abreast across various departmental platforms of the possibility of a third wave. Messaging includes proactive planning to ensure measures are in place to manage the increase in volume of Covid-19 medical waste in the third wave,” he said.