BMC readies to take on the SARS threat

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has readied itself to combat the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), if it occurs in the city. In compliance with the guidelines given by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the civic health authorities, the airport authority and the state government in unison have taken elaborate precautionary measures to ensure that any case of SARS, if detected, is duly quarantined.

"SARS is a viral disease and the person infected needs to undergo 'barrier nursing' (treatment in isolation) to prevent further spread of the highly contagious and deadly disease which has increased the toll to 78. As per the statistics given by the WHO. Around 2,232 cases of SARS have been identified till date.

A high-level meeting of the BMC officials, airport officials and the state government was held to deal with the threat. The airport authorities have also geared up on war-footing to fight SARS. On learning about the red alert given by WHO, a team of officers from the corporation and state government visited the airport and held detailed discussion with the airport health officer who assured to carry out screening of all passengers especially flying from South-Asian countries like Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and also by Canada.

In case of detection of a person with any of the syndrome, the airport authority has made arrangements with the BMC to rush them to the hospital where special arrangements for patients with SARS has been made.

Said additional municipal commissioner, Mr. S.J. Kunte, "Isolated wards have been kept ready at two hospitals -- Kasturba Hospital with 30 beds and four side rooms for cases of acute infections and V.N. Desai Hospital with 10 beds where suspected cases would be treated." "Some of the government hospitals have been earmarked to conduct the preliminary tests and to provide medication to the affected," he added.

The hospitals are well-equipped with adequate stocks of medicines (steroids and antibiotics like azithromycin), gloves, respiratory masks, portable X-ray machines etc. to provide barrier nursing to the suspects. Besides to equip the hospitals with proper diagnosis of the disease, the municipal corporation has placed orders for 'diagnosis kits' to easily detect SARS.

Also one ambulance each will be provided by the BMC and the state government at the airport to immediately rush patients who are suspected of SARS to the hospitals equipped with isolated wards. Also isolation facility has been created at the airport to quarantine suspected cases.

Meanwhile it is reported that a circular has been issued to all civic/government hospitals and to all doctors regarding what they are supposed to do with suspected cases as well as the line of treatment to be adopted.