China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) issued an emergency circular Tuesday to strengthen the regulation and supervision of hospital emissions of medical waste.
The circular said that during a time when efforts are being made to prevent severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the priority for all environmental protection departments at various levels is to cut off any path through which the virus could possibly spread and to prevent recontamination through the medical waste from SARS patients.
The SEPA asked that the normal functioning of handling and treating facilities of medical waste should be ensured, and a special supervision and tracing system will be established for hospitals treating SARS patients.
The SEPA circular also demanded that medical emissions be put under more strict and more frequent monitoring, and the waste that does not undergo treatment or reach the emission standards is banned from being discharged from hospitals.
According to the circular, a reporting mechanism will also be set up throughout the country. It stressed that while efforts are being made to prevent SARS, any medical or environmental problems should be reported immediately to the local government and relevant environmental departments.
(Xinhua News Agency April 23, 2003)