More than 20 cities across mainland China have been overloaded with medical waste, with Wuhan, the centre of the Covid-19 outbreak, producing up to six times more medical waste than usual, authorities said. Medical waste treatment facilities in 28 other cities are working at full load, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment told a press conference on Wednesday, without specifying what the other cities were. Hospitals in Wuhan, home to 11 million people and 80 per cent of those who died from Covid-19, produced more than 240 tonnes of medical waste daily during the peak of the outbreak, compared with 40 tonnes before the epidemic occurred, said Zhao Qunying, head of the ministry’s emergency office. The central government has deployed 46 mobile medical waste treatment facilitates to the city, and built a new plant with a capacity of 30 tonnes within 15 days, said Zhao. Coronavirus: Taiwan deploys chemical warfare team at airport to disinfect 361 citizens repatriated from Wuhan “We have also upgraded facilities treating hazardous waste [to treat medical waste now],” he said. The measures are designed to increase the city’s waste treatment capacity from 50 tonnes a day to over 263 tonnes. The outbreak has infected more than 80,000 people and killed more than 3,000 people in China, and has since spread to more than 100 countries. Zhao did not specify which other cities were overburdened or near full capacity, but inadequate medical waste treatment capabilities have been a long-standing issue in China. Over 2 million tonnes of medical waste were produced in 2018, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. But 76 cities were unable to treat it in time, Hu Longhua, from the ministry’s solid waste and chemical management centre, told a forum that year. No time to relax in Wuhan’s coronavirus battle, top Chinese law enforcer says While the government suggests everyone wear a mask in public places to contain the spread of the virus, their use has added to the piles of medical waste to be disposed of. Chinese manufacturers produced about 116 million a day by the end of last month, a 12-fold increase from the start of February, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planning agency. It’s unclear how many of them are destroyed daily, but supply is still tight as most residents across the country can only buy a limited number from the government at a designated time. Those generated by hospitals are treated as medical waste, which often goes to landfill or for incineration after sterilisation, Liu Lifeng, deputy head of the urban development department of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, told the conference. Others are collected separately from those thought to be ill, while some are treated as household waste. Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020.