Laboratory workers bag a biological sample at a drive-through COVID-19 testing centre in Al Khawaneej, Dubai. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The first case of coronavirus COVID-19 was detected in the UAE on January 29, 2020, and subsequently, Dubai has been diligently working on a plan on how to treat polluted waste.

Since the outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on March 11, Dubai has treated approximately 350 tons of medical waste until the end of April, at a rate of five to six tons per day.

Dawoud Al Hajri, Director General of Dubai Municipality, said the medical waste treatment procedure is considered a vital stage in the sustainable waste management system.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, Dubai Municipality has managed medical waste taken from both public and private clinics, hospitals, healthcare centres and laboratories, and transported it directly to the Jebel Ali Hazardous Waste Treatment Facility affiliated with Dubai Municipality, in order to treat it on a daily basis in central medical waste treatment systems designated for this purpose,” said Al Hajri.

wastewater treatment plant
The wastewater treatment plant is one of the pioneering projects implemented by Dubai Municipality at the Jebel Ali Hazardous Waste Treatment Complex.

“The facility is equipped with the best international environmental systems to ensure the protection of the environment,” he noted.

The detailed plan for treating polluted waste, which were drafted according to best practices of global environment, was carried out in coordination with the Waste Management Department at Dubai Municipality’s Crisis Team, Dubai Health Authority and the Ministry of Health and Prevention.

Specific Treatment Procedures

Abdul Majeed Saifaie, director of Waste Management Department at Dubai Municipality, said that all medical waste is managed according to the highest standards of occupational health and safety. Medical waste contaminated with COVID-19 is sterilised upon arrival at the facility directly, and takes priority over the rest of the medical waste for immediate disposal.

“All equipment, vehicles and areas are completely sterilised to avoid any biological danger. This type of waste is received around the clock in three shifts per day,” he said.

Further Procedures

Corridors have been created to disinfect employees, customers and individuals working in the field of biological waste transportation. The municipality has contracted a leading medical waste treatment company to supply a highly advanced mobile medical waste station capable of receiving medical waste contaminated with all types of infectious viruses, including COVID-19.

This station contains modern and advanced systems to treat all types of gases and emissions generated from processing operations. In addition, all companies operating in the field of waste management and their customers have been circulated to provide special containers for collecting used masks, hand gloves and other personal protection.