Environment watchdog Nema has called for proper disposal of face masks, saying they pose a health risk and could help spread the deadly coronavirus.
Nema board chairman John Konchellah, speaking in Mombasa, asked county governments to invest in incinerators so that the biohazardous waste can be disposed of safely.
“The Covid-19 pandemic brought a new challenge to the world. We are facing a serious threat … which comes with unsafe disposal of facemasks by members of the public and it is worrying,” he said.
Face masks, he said, are being thrown out haphazardly and should be separated from other waste.
Greater use of safety materials against Covid-19, Nema says, has led to massive generation of infectious waste.
“These protective and safety materials are being used across the country in hospitals, shopping places, offices, and homes. Most of these are single-use items, resulting in increased waste generation, which if not well managed could pose both cross infections and environmental risks,” Mr Konchellah said.
The public, he said, should be sensitised on safer ways of disposing of facemasks and PPEs now that many Covid-19 cases are being treated at home.
He said plans were underway in collaboration with county governments to roll out incinerators and public awareness campaigns on the safe disposal of biohazard waste.
“In conjunction with the Ministry of Health and county governments, we are in talks on how we will be able to distribute incinerators across the 47 counties to ensure the public is knowledgeable and reduce chances of spreading the coronavirus,” he said.
In April 2020, the government made the wearing of face masks mandatory as a way of reducing the spread of the deadly viral disease, and those found without them have been arrested and penalised.
Even before Covid-19, Kenya had a challenge of medical waste disposal because of the lack of incinerators.
Nema says the challenge now lies squarely on citizens, who should take personal responsibility for keeping their environment safe.