August 6, 2020

(Covid-19), Global game changer: Environmental Public Health perspectives

By Theophilus Franklyn, Environmental Health Officer

Within the last three months the COVID 19 or commonly corona virus has escalated through extreme proportions, being a global pandemic, claiming lives, shutting down cities, business and industries.

Corona virus or COVID 19 started in Wuhan city, has then branched off to all countries worldwide with illness and cases in exponential numbers. This is strain from SARs in this group. This illness can cause shortness of breath, fever, respiratory problem from 2 to 14 days incubation period, currently the United States has surpass all other countries with deaths rates on a daily basis.

Thus this piece will focus on the impact on the natural and manmade environment, also the consequences and changes that will be influence by the disease in the near future.

Firstly, covid19 or corona virus has impacted the environment in many ways.  Within the food industry with regards to social or physical distancing. Social distancing in context is define as  where persons  is expected to be at least 3 feet or two arms length .away from each other and the prohibition of mass gathering such as carnival ect.  The food industry has taken a hard blow from this with limited person patronizing businesses that have created much job lost for many workers.

Also, the impact on pollution; in some countries there has been on increase in pollution. Due to the ongoing nature on this pandemic, waste has been unable to be segregated or put into different waste categories such as tins, plastic due to the risk of infection of the workers. For example, in Italy has banned residents’ from sorting there waste.  There is also a risk of transmission onto the landfill, garbage collectors and scavengers on landfill and dumps. In some countries workers in these occupations may lack the proper personal protective equipment to prevent transmission at the landfill.

Additionally, increase in medical waste according to article on the consequences of Covid 19. They stated that within the hospital setting where health workers and the used of single used disposable mask and gloves. These may have more pollution from Covid 19. This increase is due to certain countries having thousand of infected person with the virus, so health care workers has to be constantly changing gloves and the required PPE or personal protective equipment  ever so often. In contrast, some medical institution has to work without the required but reverted to makes shift mask and PPE’s as to workers on the frontline to prevent the further spread of this disease.

Secondly, water usage is increasing. Due to the need for proper hand washing for sanitation. Hand washing plays important factors to eliminate the spread of this dreaded disease. Hand washing should be done at least several times and after everything. In the Caribbean, especially St.Vincent and the Grenadines where there is a drought problem and the Grenadines Island has limited water supply this can severely impact on health of the entire population where the pandemic is still at its peak of further transmission.

Some changes that will occur after this pandemic of Covid 19 has passed will impact tremendously on the environmental health on a whole. Some of these might are port health, food hygiene and sanitation.

Firstly, in Port health this is critical infrastructure in the health setting. Port health is the enforcement of health at all port from the elimination of Vector Control, clearance of ships and inspection of food containers for human consumption. This important so as to prevent disease from entering via person and food. Food safety is important for the survival of any population; hence port health plays a significant role. One change in respect to this is the clearance of ships with certain disease from passengers, and, allowing of vessels to be cleared within 24 hours in to international waters or inland into countries. So authorities can verify and know that all members of cruise ships, speed and luxury yachts are healthy to enter their respective island.

Secondly, food hygiene and sanitation for the population. In that restaurants and bars would have to put measures in place for social distancing, regime for proper sanitizing to eliminate the spread of any germs and bacteria. Food business would also need to educate their staff on hygienic condition for future outbreak of diseases.

In conclusion, the corona virus or Covid-19 which a new and developing disease with no known cure but preventative measures are put in place to limits spread. So to further limit pollution in hospitals and from homes. Thus, whenever the dust settles and it’s over, changes will be made to our worlds as we know it but it’s how we cope with these changes that matter to us. So all be careful and follow the health authorities’ guidelines on social distancing and washing your hands regularly.

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