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The authorities should look at ways to dispose of used antigen rapid test kits more safely

With a shift to the Covid-19 home recovery protocol to minimise the burden on our public healthcare system, antigen rapid test (ART) kits will be increasingly common and crucial in our daily routine.

The authorities should look at ways to dispose of used antigen rapid test kits more safely

The current disposal instructions on the MOH website for the antigen rapid test kits is very generic, says a TODAY reader.

Soh Yew Peng

With a shift to the Covid-19 home recovery protocol to minimise the burden on our public healthcare system, antigen rapid test (ART) kits will be increasingly common and crucial in our daily routine. 

As a result, it seems possible that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of used kits, which would have tested both positive and negative, would need to be disposed of in a safe way.

Presently, the disposal instructions on the Ministry of Health (MOH) website is very generic:

Dispose of the used test kit properly:

a) Bag all the used items in the test kit into one plastic bag or sealable bag and seal it.

b) Place the sealed bag into another plastic bag.

c) Tie the second bag tightly with a rubber band or cable tie.

d) Throw it into a rubbish chute or pedal bin immediately.

My question is: If the test result is positive, wouldn't the kit and its related content be considered biohazard waste or medical waste? 

If so, shouldn't it be disposed of responsibly according to strict guidelines governing the disposal of medical /clinical waste? 

Should the positive ART kit be wrapped in two plastic bags with a rubber band and dumped into the common garbage chute or worse into the common waterways or our drainage system by inconsiderate users?

Concerns about Covid-related medical waste are not something new.

I hope MOH, the National Environment Agency (NEA), and other relevant authorities can look into this issue of massive and potentially indiscriminate disposal of used ART kits  quickly and come up with an easy-to-implement solution.

After all, there are already standard operating procedures in place for disposing of medical waste at hospitals, both in Covid-19 wards and other wards.

If not, the most logical way would be to set up dedicated medical or biohazard waste disposal bins at Housing and Development Board town centres, community clubs, hospitals, polyclinics, Public Health Preparedness Clinics and so on. 

This would be similar to the e-waste recycling bins situated at various venues all over Singapore.  

Have views on this issue or a news topic you care about? Send your letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

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Covid-19 coronavirus antigen rapid test MOH

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