Face masks everywhere
With face masks now a legal requirement in public spaces in Oman, thousands will be needed each month. However, without better disposal practices, an environmental disaster is looming as a result of the improper disposal of face masks and gloves.
Since the Supreme Committee made it mandatory for people to wear masks in public places, used face protection covers and gloves have been seen casually tossed away by careless people.
According to the Ministry of Health (MoH), this is not only a major health risk for sanitation workers and rag pickers but also for people out in the streets.
“Now is the need more than ever before to raise the collective awareness of the masses on the dangers of throwing waste on the ground, including gloves and masks that may be contaminated by the virus. We are worried and frightened because of such behaviour,” Janaab Sayyid Hudhaim Fuad al Said - Health, Safety and Environment Specialist at MoH - told Muscat Daily.
He said that throwing used gloves on the ground or streets can be a major health risk especially to those cleaning the streets.
“This irresponsible habit may lead to the increase in infections. This is a terrible epidemic that spreads like wildfire,” Sayyid Hudhaim said.
“This is why we have to be careful in many ways, including the proper disposal of this type of waste. People who are cleaning the streets will be at risk of getting the disease because of the carelessness of a few who throw contaminated masks on the road,” he added.
Sayyid Hudhaim also requested people to stop carelessly throwing used gloves.
“There is always a suitable place for such waste. Gloves and masks thrown on the ground are a health hazard and an ‘emerging’ cause of COVID-19 transmission. My message to the people is to dispose masks and gloves in a bin to avoid any health risk to others,” he said.
“We have seen people throwing their gloves and mask in the car park before getting into their vehicle. This is extreme selfishness. It’s as if they are throwing their illness without care and without the slightest responsibility. This has to stop.”
According to citizens and residents, car parks and beaches across Muscat are seen littered with masks and gloves despite awareness campaigns conducted through different mediums about the hazards of disposing these improperly, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have been seeing discarded masks and gloves on the streets and in public places. Even though there are bins everywhere, there are still many people who simply throw the used masks anyhow. They forget such items are a health risk to the community. People should be educated to stop this practice,” said Amerat resident Saeed al Tauqi, an engineer.
“I have noticed that some people lack the proper understanding of how these face masks and gloves should be handled,” said taxi driver Adnan Rashid. “Some of my passengers leave them in my taxi, which is just not right. I only see them in the car after I reach home.”
Rashid has also seen instances of people tossing masks out of car windows and littering outside garbage bins.
“We need to consider the cleaners who pick them up.”
The fine for not wearing masks in Oman was raised to RO100 from RO20 as per a decision mentioned in the official gazette. According to the Supreme Committee decision, a fine will be imposed for not wearing masks in public places - all commercial and industrial activities, public and private workplaces, in transportation and other places.
Municipality littering fine
RO1,000 fine for littering
The fine will be doubled for offenders who are caught
littering more than once