Don’t dump masks, gloves

Muscat: Throwing masks and gloves, if contaminated, could spread coronavirus and have environmental hazards as well. Studies show that coronavirus can live on surfaces for days.

As more people across Oman wear personal protective equipment (PPE) in their daily lives, they’re also littering it all over streets, sidewalks, parking lots, parks and premises of shops.

Many people have taken to the social media to voice their anger over tossing masks and gloves on the pavement and leaving it on shopping trolleys.

“Don’t be thoughtless,” reads one tweet. “Don’t leave your face masks and gloves in the shopping carts or parking slots,” says another.

Despite repeated appeals through different media platforms not to toss masks and gloves in the open, people do not bother to dispose them responsibly.

“Very often I find trolleys with used gloves left behind by shoppers. Till the parking area they wear the gloves and masks. After taking the shopping items from the trolleys, they leave the gloves in in them or throw them in the parking area,” said an employee at a leading hyper market in Muscat.

“Every day, I collect several discarded masks. Instead of safely putting them inside the trash bin, people throw them from the vehicles along with other waste. Some simply drops used masks on the roads,” said sanitation worker in Ruwi.

Muscat Municipality has repeatedly urged citizens and residents to safely dispose PPE that include gloves, apron, face masks and eye protection materials.

According to an official at the sanitation department at the civic body, littering is an irresponsible behavior, which not only poses a risk to public safety but also harms the environment.

“Throwing used masks and gloves, if contaminated, could spread COVID-19. Of course, it is not a fine that should discourage people from doing so. They should understand that throwing used masks and gloves, especially if contaminated, is among the worst things you can do during this pandemic,” he said.

He said that carrying out preventive measures to curb the coronavirus is a shared responsibility of every member of the society.

“Don’t leave them outside the garbage bin or any other place where people tread. You’re are putting every one’s health at risk,” he said.

However, he said that punitive measures including fines, applicable to littering, will be slapped on the violators. He explained that the correct way to safely discard a face mask is to place it in a plastic bag and then put it in a garbage bin.

“Don’t forget to wash your hands after handling the used mask or any other PPE,” he said.