WGHCW Online Meeting - A report from the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic

The Working Group on Healthcare Waste held an Online Working Group meeting on Monday, March 23rd despite many of its members tirelessly working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing technology and expertise in places of need.

2 Apr 2020 -

Friday, March 27, 2020


Miquel Lozano, President of Tesalys, based in Toulouse, France reports that the French Ministry of Health is now requiring treating COVID 19 waste the same as infectious wastes.  The main challenges are the amount of waste generated throughout scattered areas of France and the need for waste managers to organize themselves to account for the extra capacity of the waste. Tesalys have designed a special program with an additional pre-decontamination step to ensure that viruses are inactivated before the pre-vacuum/filtration step.  This is an issue especially when using standard autoclaves without filtration for waste decontamination. “In terms of recommendations and scientific support, we must stand behind the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO). This bug is not resistant as any other bug found in hospitals,” added Mr. Lozano during the meeting. 


Josep Vicaria, of the MATACHANA Group in Spain, is currently coping with the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in Europe.  He reports that the company is taking exceptional measures to first ensure the safety of all its employees while trying to provide a public service to the country and Ministry of Health and reconciling their commitments to their customers and hospitals. “It is an exceptional situation…we have received from many of our distributors around the world, from all continents, urgent requests for delivery times to have MATACHANA equipment, especially in sterilizers, bedpan washers, and our infectious waste treatment systems (IWIS Solution).”  Like Mr. Lozano, Mr. Vicaria also emphasizes the guidance provided by WHO.  


Incidentally, on March 19, 2020, WHO released interim guidance on water, sanitation, hygiene, and waste management for the COVID-19 virus.  The WHO recommends the following on the safe management of health care waste: 

Best practices for safely managing health care waste should be followed, including assigning responsibility and sufficient human and material resources to dispose of such waste safely. There is no evidence that direct, unprotected human contact during the handling of health care waste has resulted in the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. All health care waste produced during the care of COVID 19 patients should be collected safely in designated containers and bags, treated, and then safely disposed of or treated, or both, preferably onsite. If waste is moved off-site, it is critical to understand where and how it will be treated and destroyed. All who handle health care waste should wear appropriate PPE (boots, apron, long-sleeved gown, thick gloves, mask, and goggles or a face shield) and perform hand hygiene after removing it. 


For further detailed guidance, the WHO refers to its publication, Safe Management of Wastes from Health-care Activities. Contributors to this publication also include ISWA’s own WGHCW members such as Dr. Anne Woolridge (ISWA WGHCW Chair), Ruth Stringer (Healthcare Without Harm), and Ed Krisiunas (WNWN International).

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