Kashyap Kumar Dubey
Coronavirus is having a single strand RNA and envelop cause various diseases in humans. The current, global outbreak of COVID-19 declared a pandemic by WHO (World Health Organisation) due to high transmission rate. Mortality toll increasing day by day worldwide and estimated as on date is 252K and India is having 1,568 deaths till today. One of the prime reason for increasing mortality rate is the absence of effective medicine or vaccine and it might take probably several months/years for research and development further to reach with the people worldwide.
Our Indian government has taken admirable initiatives to prevent transmission and community spread by Janta Curfew which was further renewed into Lockdown 1.0 to Lockdown 3.0. It is the only way to save the millions life as per WHO guidelines.
There will be strong future challenges for the post-COVID-19 pandemic for rag pickers/ sanitisation workers involved in the collection and treatment of municipal solid waste and wastewater treatment plants.
Viruses have a direct connection with the wastewater when they are excreted through urine and faeces. Some of these viruses infect the gastrointestinal tract and can be easily traced in the stool. Different research report(s) confirmed the presence of enveloped viruses (SARS and CMV) in urine and faeces sample with the survival time in faeces of 4 days.
In most of the Indian cities, we have the ConventionalSewage Treatment Plants (STPs), which includes the process of sedimentation, filtration and disinfection (by chlorination) which will inactivate COVID 19. So, maintain chlorination in wastewater treatment plants throughout the distribution system which would be helpful in reducing virus level after post COVID19 pandemic. Where such systems are not available people can use household methods for removal of the virus by boiling of water, so that it could be drinkable and free from virus.
In our country, water generated from the wastewater treatment plants will be further used for the irrigation or sanitation etc. Before the reuse of wastewater, the assessment of the COVID 19 risk should be very much essential otherwise possibility will be high for penetration into the food chain. Sewage infrastructure strengthening should be also required which reduce the occupational exposures.
The immediate systematic investigation is needed to tackle the fear of COVID19 survival in the environment and about the safe disposal of PPE (Personnel Protection Equipment) like a long-sleeved gown, thick gloves, mask, goggles, face shield, boots. FollowWHO interim guidelines on ‘water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management for the COVID19 virus’ published on 19 March 2020. Further, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change (Government of India)has already issued guidelines for bio-medical waste management rules, 2016 for management and handling of biomedical waste.
In future, we need strict guidelines, policies and regulations for persistence and transport of COVID-19 or similar kind of microorganisms in the environment. Guidelines will focus on mitigating COVID-19 spread or similar viruses
(Kashyap Kumar Dubey, Department of Biotechnology, Central University of Haryana, Mahendergarh)