Home Opinion Environmental Issues In COVID-19 | Kehinde Ayoola

Environmental Issues In COVID-19 | Kehinde Ayoola

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There is a crying need to be informed, to examine and to abide by stipulations for environmental compliance during a pandemic such as Covid-19 is.

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For a start, let me list the precautions that the government has urged on us as a people:

1. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

2. Where soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.

3. Stay at home. The virus doesn’t fly around. People fly or move it around. When you don’t move, the virus doesn’t move. The virus dies.

4. Social distancing: If you must go out, leave a space of between 1metre and 1.5metre between yourself and the next person to you.

5. Do not congregate in groups of more than ten persons.

6. Use a face mask when you go out.

There are others but space and time constrain me.

Now, we need to pay attention to the environmental components of land, water and air at this time.

AIR QUALITY:
This must be maintained at very high level. Smoky vehicles, smokey chimneys, bush burning, refuse burning and other occurrences appurtenant to bad air must be avoided. You can imagine smoky air where there is a Covid-19 patient with difficulty in breathing! That’s expressway to death. God forbid.

WATER QUALITY :
The consumption of unwholesome water could aggravate the covid-19 status of a community. We are all aware that the virus is at its devastating worst in patients with underlying health conditions. Can you countenance a man/woman with salmonella typhi (Typhoid fever pathogen) heavily in his/her system and the person carries the virus? That is a sure patient for the isolation ward.
Please, folks, drink clean, healthy water to stay safe at this time. Drink water at room temperature for good effect too.

LAND:
Every waste we generate end up on the land. Our cities and towns are littered with waste. We have a duty, therefore, to keep our surroundings sparkling clean.
The virus has been shown to have the capacity to be active several hours after it has been shed on land or anything on land. Please get a container for your household where you will put your waste for the contractor servicing your area to carry. Dumping of refuse by the roadside, in waterways and illegal dumps is not only uncivilized but is now a crime. You could get prosecuted and jailed, if caught.

Let me dwell a bit more on Solid Waste Management at this period.
There are household wastes, industrial wastes, commercial wastes, hazardous wastes and hospital wastes.
However in a pandemic like this, it is safe to view all hospital wastes as hazardous waste.
All hazardous wastes are incinerated under controlled environments.
Wastes are hazardous at this time if generated in the following ways:

a. Tissues and pieces of cloth that an infected person sneezes into at this time.

b. Needles and syringes used in taking blood samples of infected persons.

c. Personal Protective Wears used by healthcare givers.

d. Discarded facemasks

e. Discarded bed and bedding materials used by infected persons.

f. Materials used in mopping of infected surfaces.

g. Blood and sequestered body parts esp from Covid-19 infected persons.

h. And so on.

Any of the above items could have the virus on them.
We must therefore be very careful in disposing them.

WHAT OYO STATE HAS DONE ON SOLID WASTE.

The OYSG, has interfaced with refuse contractors (known as OYOWMA Contractors). Many of them service the hospitals that are in the state.
In Ibadan alone, there are 480 hospitals, both private and public, including the popular ones: UCH, Oluyoro Catholic hospital, Adeoyo (Yemetu), Adeoyo (Ring Road) etc.
A number of those contractors service homes, markets and factories too, so in the past they lumped the wastes together irrespective of where they come from.
However, the prevailing situation has necessitated caution so that we don’t unwittingly spread the virus while we go about the business of collecting waste.
Hospital wastes are now being collected separately using standard procedures and they are taken to the dumpsites in like manner.

Also, the officials of the Environmental Health Services Department have been going out on Sensitization drives on daily basis to educate our people on sanitation measures at this time.

The covid-19 pandemic is a new occurrence, we need to review and adjust our strategies against it almost everyday as new facts turn up. Therefore, the measures enumerated here are by no means sacrosanct. This leaves a wide room for concrete suggestions from members of the public.

The Seyi Makinde administration is seriously focused on taming this pandemic as far as Oyo State is concerned. I urge all citizens to maximally cooperate with the government in order to win this battle.

Please observe the precautions and stay safe.

It is well with our state indeed.

Omi Tuntun, Ìgbà Ọ̀tun!

Ayoola, a former speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, is commissioner for environment and water resources.

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