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Issue specific rules for disposal of used masks, HC tells State

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday directed the State government to come out with specific guidelines for disposal of used masks by citizens by November 3, and give wide publicity to the guidelines in print, electronic and social media to create public awareness.

Also, the court directed the government to give proper training to pourakarmikas on collection and handling of personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, and toiletries used in households, including those having COVID-19 positive patients.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar issued the direction after it was pointed out that the State government has not made citizens aware of the guidelines issued in July by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for handling, treatment, and disposal of waste generated during treatment/diagnosis/quarantine of COVID-19 patients.

The Bench was hearing a PIL petition on issues related to COVID-19 health management. The Bench agreed with the contention of one of the petitioners, K.B. Vijayakumar, that the State government has not made aware of the guidelines on disposal of masks used by citizens as both the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and the State governments have merely issued circulars in August and September, respectively, for following the elaborative guidelines issued by the CPCB.

Waste masks and gloves in households, including those used by non-COVID-19 patients, should be kept in paper bag for a minimum of 72 hours prior to disposal of the same as dry general solid waste after cutting the same to prevent reuse, says the CPCB guidelines.

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