The safe waste treatment for COVID-19: Lessons from the Republic of Korea

As of early May 2020, there are more than 3.5 million infected cases and 247 thousand dead of COVID-19 in the world. The world has spared no effort to contain COVID 19 since its initial emergence from the epicenter since last December in 2019. At the early stage of the outbreak, the Republic of Korea(hereafter ROK) was one of the countries whose number of infected cases ranked as the top five, and the virus started quickly spreading at the local and community level. However, since March 2020, there has been a significant decrease in cases nationwide. The ROK’s response to COVID-19 has received many compliments and been highlighted as a positive response model to follow. There are many aspects of the response measures, but this policy brief focuses on ROK’s management of clinical waste to prevent spreading COVID-19. It is estimated that each patient disposes of 10kg of clinical waste per day in ROK. The government of the ROK has been handling those wastes adequately, even with a sharp increase in waste over a short period of time. The purpose of this policy brief is to contribute knowledge tools and ideas on implementing relevant clinical/ medical waste management measures for the globe in fighting efficiently against COVID-19.