Grave sanctions await healthcare facilities improperly disposing COVID-19 test kits

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Personnel of Manila Department of Public Services cleans up used rapid test kits along Sampaloc

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 2) — The Department of Health issued a warning on Wednesday on the health risks and sanctions for the improper disposal of used COVID-19 test kits.

Residents in Sampaloc, Manila City were worried on Tuesday night after dozens of used rapid test kits were found scattered along M. Dela Fuente Street. Based on a security footage, the kits fell from a punctured garbage bag that was attached to a pedicab.

Health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire urged healthcare facilities to ensure the proper disposal of hazardous wastes, saying these items deemed as "healthcare waste" should be placed in an Environment Department-approved container with proper label. She said this will prevent the possibility of garbage collectors touching the test kits containing samples from probable COVID-19 cases.

"There is a sanction for all of these healthcare facilities na hindi nila tinatapon nang maayos ang kanilang waste... Ito ay maaaring makapanghawa at makapag-cause ng harm sa mga tao," she said in a media forum.

[Translation: There is a sanction for all of these healthcare facilities that do not properly dispose of their waste. This can be infectious and cause harm.]

She said the responsibility lies on the healthcare facility, adding that failure to properly dispose of medical waste may lead to suspension or even the revocation of their operating license. Vergeire urged them to sign deals with disposal firms or coordinate with their local government unit.

"Definitely their license will be at risk," she warned.

Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso said the city government’s health department and six district hospitals are compliant with DOH rules, adding they haven't used rapid test kits since mid-July. He warned all clinics, laboratories, and companies in the city that failure to properly dispose hazardous waste would lead to business closure.

The Manila Police District has started the investigation on the source of the used test kits and charges will be filed for improper waste management.