‘Face masks could create environmental crisis’


There are concerns that improper dumping of used face masks will create an environmental crisis in the country.

The coming of coronavirus has led to an increase in use of protective gear such as face masks and gloves but Association of Environmental Journalists chairperson, Mathews Malata, has expressed concern over the improper disposal of the coronavirus protective materials

Speaking in an interview with Malawi, Malata said used gloves or masks are being dumped outside shops, in locations and along roads. He said this is dangerous as it pollutes the environment.

“We are in a very difficult situation but we also need to be responsible enough to protect the environment,” he said.

He added that the improper disposal of the protective materials could also lead to the spread of the coronavirus since the virus can survive on some surfaces for days.

“If someone has the virus and dumps the gloves or mask anywhere, they could be increasing the spread of the virus. Children could pick up the mask, start playing with it and that could be dangerous.

“Even the lives of cleaners or garbage collectors are at risk due to improper disposal.    We must find better ways of managing and disposing these protective materials,” he said.

Malata suggested that authorities should send out messages to the public about proper dumping of the used protective gears.

He added that government can also create a place where people should be able to dump the used face masks and gloves.

Malata also noted that some people use cotton masks which can be washed and reused. He said this should be encouraged if such masks are effective in Covid-19 prevention.

Malawi has so far recorded 56 coronavirus cases and there have been 14 recoveries and three deaths.

Apart from encouraging people to wear masks, health authorities are recommending social distancing and washing of hands.