Complaints as medical waste piles up outside Mexico hospital

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Residents of Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Veracruz have complained after photos showed mountains of bagged hospital waste piling up in a patio outside a government hospital.

The 10-foot (3-meter) tall garbage pile outside the Adolfo Ruiz Cortines hospital has apparently been growing for a couple of weeks, according to hospital employees and residents of the state’s biggest city, also known as Veracruz.

The hospital treats patients with COVID-19, raising fears of a spread of infection. However, the Mexican Social Security Institute, which runs the hospital, said that the waste was not infectious or biological and late Wednesday said that six tons of garbage had been removed and more would go on Thursday.

Improper disposal of medical waste has become an increasing problem in Mexico amid the pandemic.

In May, authorities found 3.5 tons of hospital waste dumped in the woods on the outskirts of Mexico City and 6,000 cubic yards (meters) of medical waste piled ceiling-high at a clandestine warehouse in Puebla state, leaking out of over-crammed trailers and buildings.

Teetering piles of coffins, meanwhile, have piled up outside Mexico City’s overworked crematoriums.

In the town of Nicolás Romero, in a wooded area on the outskirts of Mexico City, someone had been dumping tons of medical waste on a hillside starting sometime around mid-April. By the time inspectors came to clean up the area between May 4 and 11, they found 3.5 tons of the stuff, including tissue and partly incinerated human tissue scattered around the area.

Specialized waste incinerators are already over-taxed by the flood of disposed protective equipment and infectious tissue being generated amid the pandemic.

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