The AAP government has told the Delhi High Court that guidelines issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) are in place for handling and disposal of waste generated during treatment, diagnosis and quarantine of COVID-19 patients. The 'Guidelines for Handling, Treatment, and Disposal of Waste Generated during Treatment/Diagnosis/Quarantine of COVID-19 Patients' issued by the CPCB in July has been filed the Delhi government in response to the court's query regarding any protocol being in place for disposal of test kits and swabs.
The query by the court came on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a lawyer alleging improper disposal of used swabs from rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 at the office of the southeast Delhi district magistrate at Lajpat Nagar. The petitioner, Pankaj Mehta, has alleged that used swabs were being "thrown out in public" and "tests were being carried out over a pile of used swabs for COVID-19" at the district magistrate's office.
"Upon complaining about the risk of widespread infection and the irregularity behind disposing off the swabs in this manner, the doctor concerned at the counter said the swabs are of negative patients and thus it is safe to stand over them and get yourself tested," Mehta has claimed in his plea. The Delhi government, represented by Additional Standing Counsel Sanjoy Ghose and advocate Naman Jain, had on the last date of hearing refuted the claims made in the plea.
The court had, thereafter, asked them to place before it the guidelines or protocols in place for disposal of COVID-19 test kits and swabs and who had issued them. Mehta, in his petition, has said that the Union Health Ministry came out with the Clinical Management Protocol notification on July 3 which laid emphasis on safe waste management and cleaning of the environment across all the areas of healthcare facilities, but the same was allegedly not being enforced by the Delhi government.