The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has commended local authorities countrywide for heeding national strategies to minimise the spread of Covid-19 by attending to environmental matters.
Local authorities have been disinfecting central business districts and other areas such as market places during the lockdown period.
EMA manager responsible for the environment and education Ms Amkela Sidange said although the councils had done well in terms of disinfecting public places, solid waste management remained a cause for concern.
She said waste generation had drastically increased at household level during the lockdown period.
“The pandemic has seen a significant increase in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), particularly masks and gloves countrywide by front-line health personnel as well as members of the public,” she said.
“The obtaining scenario has resulted in formerly institutionalised clinical or medical waste being found at household level globally, with Zimbabwe being no exception. However, this type of waste has serious and far-reaching negative impacts on the environment and human health if not properly disposed of because other than polluting the environment, it might transmit the coronavirus, leading to its spread in the community.”
Masks and gloves are increasingly becoming common, as more people are using them as safety precautions against Covid-19.
PPE litter was more hazardous than normal garbage, as it had a higher risk of spreading the novel coronavirus.
People dealing with picking and disposing of the contaminated litter are at high risk of contracting other diseases including the Covid-19.
Ms Sidange said the gloves and masks were supposed to be used only once, which made them non-recyclable.
“The agency is encouraging all citizens to dispose of used gloves and face masks properly at designated places and not in the environment,” she said.
“Let us do this to keep our environment clean, safe and healthy.”
Local authorities were supposed to ensure that waste was collected as scheduled to discourage illegal dumping by residents.