People caught littering used masks and gloves could face hefty fines, politicians warn
Tossing items for someone else to collect is irresponsible, doctors say, as they may contain live coronavirus
Some local politicians are considering large fines for people caught discarding used gloves and masks in public, with several sightings of the disposable items littering streets around Metro Vancouver.
Medical professionals say it is thoughtless and irresponsible behaviour, as the items present a real danger of transmitting the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
"It's not only littering it's also selfish," said Vancouver Coun. Pete Fry.
"If they're contaminated enough that you don't want to put them in personal garbage, which obviously people aren't doing, then you're really sort of passing the problem onto someone else."
Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart echoed Fry's words in a Facebook video.
"If you think something is contaminated, leaving it for others is about the most selfish thing you could do," he said, adding that the city is considering hefty fines.
The City of Vancouver said it may do the same if the situation gets worse. Neither municipality determined how much any potential fine would be.
Doctors say discarded masks and gloves can contain the coronavirus if the wearer has COVID-19 or has touched a surface carrying the virus.
"Multiple particles of the virus [could be] on there and can be for days, and the poor soul who has to dispose of garbage will be exposed," said Dr. Mayam Zeineddin, a doctor in Vancouver.
Doctors say masks should be taken off from the back first, while gloves should be removed from the inside out before they are thrown safely in the garbage. Users should then thoroughly wash their hands.
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With files from Deborah Goble