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COVID-19: A pandemic that is intricately entwined with environment

Author(s): Sangeeta Deka

This critical narrative review is intended to emphasize ecological issues related to the evolution of the novel coronavirus, the environmental factors associated with the disease progress, and the impact the pandemic is having on the environment. 60% of the emerging infectious disease of the last century (including deadly viruses like HIV, Ebola, Influenza, coronavirus strains like SARS, MERS) are linked to zoonotic spillover. Therefore, to escape the emergence of newer cross-species infections, proper precautionary measures should be taken. Every country has specific rules to deal with the biomedical waste produced in hospitals. But the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a unique global challenge due to the overwhelming amount of biomedical waste generated from dedicated COVID hospitals, diagnostic facilities, quarantine centers, and home quarantine facilities. Moreover, inappropriate disposal of masks and other protective gears by the general public may contaminate the environment turning it into a potential health hazard. Therefore, strict adherence to Biomedical Waste Management Guidelines for proper disposal of masks and other medical waste by all concerned is a must. Lockdown has brought about tremendous improvement in conditions of the world’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. Dramatic improvement in air quality index, decrease in water, and noise pollution are some of the positive aspects of lockdown. However, these effects are temporary. But these teach an important lesson to the world to take some permanent measures to bring down greenhouse gases and other toxic emissions.Some harmful effects of lockdown are illegal deforestation, wildlife trafficking, encroachment of reserved areas etc.

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