Waste is waste and taking good care of it could basically be interpreted as a waste of time since its fate is to be disposed of. However, the face masks in use for protection of COVID-19 spread could be part of a few exceptions.
The Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) says that before disposing of the face masks, one should wash and iron them.
“ These used face masks are in the category of hazardous wastes, susceptible to transfer the virus rapidly. They should be washed and ironed properly before dumping to make sure that it would not pose any threat to the garbage collecting workers,” Director General of REMA, Engineer Coletha Ruhamya said on state television on Sunday 10,2020.
“The used face mask should be isolated from other wastes because it is hazardous. Face mask dustbins should be put at a distance and out of the reach of children and the rest of community members. At least the dustbin should be four meters away from working places or bedrooms, ”Ruhamya said.
She further noted that “We need to protect the environment that provides us with food and necessities but also protect lives.”
“It is prohibited to dispose of a face mask or mix it with municipal solid waste. It must be conserved well until it is transported to the sellers where you bought it or the pharmacy for them to dispose of as per the law,” Eng. Ruhamya said.
“Those allowed to sell face masks like health centers, and pharmacies should prepare a collection point of used masks with the help of food and drug authority (FDA). They will be disposed of in a way that will not have adverse effects on the environment and people,”Eng. Ruhamya said.
In Rwanda, local manufacturers are expected to produce over 600,000 face masks every day, after FDA gave a green light for the mask production to 39 manufacturers from 22 last month.
“Several researchers in the world indicated that groundwater has been infected with novel coronavirus, so even if you dispose of it in the toilet without washing and ironing it, you are infecting people through the environment,” Dr. Charles Karangwa, Director General of FDA said.
“Better we prevent the virus from going that far, and the most important way is isolating used face masks in effective disposal,”
“For another coronavirus preventive equipment like gloves, we have our effective scientific way of disposing of them including burning them in incinerators.” Dr. Karangwa said.
On Sunday 10, 2020 Rwanda registered exactly a total of 284 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic was confirmed in Rwanda on March 14 this year.
Four (4) new cases were confirmed out of 1,040 tests that were conducted in the last 24 hours. No death has been reported.