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Statement on the protection of waste collection workers during the Covid-19 epidemic

In its statement dated 19 March 2020 on the management of clinical waste generated during the Covid-19 epidemic, particularly in the community, the French High Council for Public Health (Haut Conseil de la santé publique, HCSP) recommended, depending on the situation, eliminating waste either via the conventional stream for infectious clinical waste or according to the conventional stream for household waste in double packaging.

The question then arose as to the protection of workers collecting household waste and infectious clinical waste during the Covid-19 epidemic. This statement addresses that question.

In light of the main routes of transmission of the SARS coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), human-to-human, through close contact, via respiratory droplets, and through indirect contact, upon touching surfaces or objects recently contaminated by droplets, and the professional conditions in which waste sorting and collection staff work, wearing a mask is not justified.

These professionals should comply with the basic protective measures aimed at preventing human-to-human transmission of SARS-CoV-2, especially in terms of hand hygiene at the end of rounds, once gloves have been removed. The HCSP also recommends that waste collection workers, workers sorting recycled household waste and workers collecting infectious clinical waste maintain the usual protective equipment (wearing gloves and appropriate work clothes).

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