How to Dispose of Used COVID-19 Tests

Since the COVID-19 virus arrived in the UK in early 2020, millions of Brits have had the experience of a COVID-19 test.  

While famously unpleasant, testing has become a necessity for many as the UK, and the world, still tries to get to grips with the pandemic. Now that testing has become so mainstream, it has raised more questions regarding how tests should be properly disposed of once they’ve been used. 

Here at Envirotec Services, we’re experts in hygiene solutions, and throughout the pandemic we have provided a number of COVID-19 services including test disposal. 

 

How to dispose of a used COVID-19 test?

Before any disposal takes place, it is important to ascertain the result of the individual’s COVID test. If the returned result is negative, then the test and its equipment can be immediately disposed of in a normal bin, just like any other waste.

However, if it is a positive result, then there are procedures that must be followed. First and foremost, the test should be placed in a clinical waste bag along with any other infected items such as facemasks and tissues. The bag should then be tied, and not touched for 72 hours. Next, it can then be disposed of following the usual clinical waste protocols.  

Types of COVID-19 tests

Should you need one, there are several different COVID-19 tests available. The most common is the PCR test. Most people who receive a test for the coronavirus will be given one of these tests, which have become widespread at testing centres across the country. 

By using a nose and mouth swab, these tests can detect the presence of the virus even before symptoms and antibodies show themselves. Regarded as the most reliable forms of testing, the sample is put through numerous testing phases, in different temperatures and environments, which means it can take longer before returning a result. 

For faster, but slightly less accurate, results there are also LAMP and lateral flow device (LFD)COVID-19 tests. The LAMP tests use the same nasal and throat swab as a PCR, but does not require testing at different temperatures meaning results take hours rather than days. 

A lateral flow device is designed to test those who don’t have symptoms, and is good at stopping those from inadvertently spreading the virus. Instead of being sent to a lab, these tests are checked on-site with a coloured strip that changes colour to indicate the presence of the virus. Similarly to the LAMP tests, the turnaround time is much faster here.

As well as this, no swab saliva tests are also being trialled with promising results. This test would require individuals to provide a saliva sample by spitting into a pot which would then be sent away and analysed. These tests also have the advantage of being less invasive, and therefore, more appealing to those who may need to be tested for the virus. 

Antibody tests  

Unlike COVID-19 tests, an antibody test does not check whether you are currently infected with coronavirus. Instead, it focuses on whether your blood has any antibodies for COVID-19 in it. 

If it does, then you may have contracted the virus in the past. You may even have done this without displaying any symptoms. This is useful, as it can be used to track the virus, as well as identifying individuals who may have blood plasma which can be donated to help further research and treatments.  

What is clinical and hazardous waste?

Hospitals, GP surgeries, care homes and a whole host of other medical facilities have to deal with all kinds of hazardous waste products on a daily basis. The term hazardous waste refers to any substance that can pose a serious risk to the environment or human health.

This waste can come in many forms but during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clinical waste that is particularly important. Clinical waste means something that poses a risk of contamination or infection which can then cause harm to someone’s health. 

Clearly, the infectious and highly transmissible nature of COVID-19 means it comes into this category. Items that have become contaminated by human waste, such as needles, bandages, face masks and PPE should all be thought of as clinical waste products and dealt with appropriately. 

All waste that falls under this umbrella needs to be handled in a specific way to prevent causing harm to others – this is something that is incredibly important during the pandemic. This involves placing all contaminated items into a yellow bag, securely fastening it and labelling with the relevant information. When this is in relation to a COVID-19 patient, the bag should then be left untouched for 72 hours to ensure all traces of the virus have been eradicated. Often, this waste is then taken away to be incinerated.  

 

If you require the disposal of any COVID-19 tests or associated waste, get in touch with Envirotec Services. Experts in a wide range of hygiene solutions, we specialise in a number of disposal services – so contact us today.