Thai rubbish collectors 'must' get jab

Thai rubbish collectors 'must' get jab

Prabkaya president calls for action

There have been calls for rubbish collectors to be vaccinated and for people to separate their waste to help reduce the transmission of Covid-19.

Rubbish collectors are at risk of coming into contact with discarded items that may be inflected with the virus, said Theerawong Sanpipat, president of Prabkaya, one of the country's largest rubbish disposal firms.

Mr Theerawong asked that the government vaccinate rubbish collectors nationwide with Pfizer or other mRNA vaccines, which he believes are more effective in warding off Covid-19.

Rubbish collectors work all hours picking up household waste which often contains used face masks that are not properly disposed of in plastic bags, exposing the collectors to potential infection, he said.

Mr Theerawong said bins for potentially infected waste are hard to come by in public places, forcing people to discard face masks along with typical household rubbish.

The government should supply vaccines, test kits and face masks to rubbish collectors, he said, while urging people to sort out their garbage and place possibly infected waste into specially-designated red bags when putting out their garbage.

The red bags should be distributed to people free via convenience stores to ensure widespread availability, he added.

It is unclear how readily available the bags are now or to what extend people are observing rubbish sorting during the crisis.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DoH) has advised rubbish collectors and scrap metal dealers to take precautions and wear masks, gloves and protective overalls when carrying out their work.

DoH director-general Dr Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoen said reports of a scrap metal dealer contracting Covid-19 from a discarded plastic water bottle he picked up in Nakhon Ratchasima showed how easy transmission can be through unprotected contact.

It is understood the virus can linger on the surface of items for hours to several days depending on the environment and climate.

In Thailand, the virus's lifespan may be shorter due to the heat and direct sunlight.

Scrap dealers are strongly advised to wear disposable gloves when searching through discarded items.

They should also don protective outfits and face masks while outdoors, and refrain from touching their faces, Dr Suwanchai said. Gloves and masks should be put into a plastic bag that is either sealed or tied. After that, hands should be washed thoroughly with soap or alcohol. The scrap dealers should also wash after a day's work, he said.

Dr Suwanchai added the public should separate their household waste for systematic disposal by local administrations.

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