BMC on alert as flight with 100 passengers from Ebola-hit Liberia headed for Mumbai
MUMBAI: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)
geared up to create additional provision for beds after receiving an alert from
the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport of a flight transporting over 100
passengers from Liberia, one of the four countries in West Africa currently
facing the ongoing epidemic infection of the Ebola virus.
According to acting executive health officer (EHO) at
BMC, Dr Shreedhar Kubal, immediate action plan was drawn in anticipation of the
expected passengers. “We are isolating 120 beds specially for these passengers.
We have been told that 116 passengers are suspected of an Ebola exposure.”
BMC’s additional municipal commissioner Sanjay
Deshmukh said, “While a facility for 120 passengers is being mobilised, we
expect that around 20 would need to get quarantined. Not all of them are
infected with the virus.”
Currently, the civic body has only 20 isolation beds
for infectious diseases– 10 in Kasturba hospital at Chinchpokli and another 10
in Jogeshwari’s Trauma hospital– which will now be increased to a capacity of
A Meeting was called on emergency basis by the health
department to discuss the required infrastructure and staff support.
A spokesperson from the international airport, while
confirming the news of the expected passengers from Liberia, said, “The flight
has still not come in our radar so it is not landing very soon. We are trying
to confirm which airlines is carrying these passengers and the total number on
The spokesperson added that the Airport Hospital
Organisation (APHO) is prepared to screen the patients and transfer the
suspected cases to BMC run hospitals in the Maharashtra’s emergency ambulance
Currently, all the suspected cases will be admitted in
Hindu Hriday Samrat Jogeshwari trauma care hospital where the provision for
beds had been made. Deshmukh added that only those patients requiring treatment
will be shifted to Kasturba hospital where 160 beds can be utilised for this
However, the threat of physical touch among passengers
and probable spread of infection is also possible. While the civic body is
arranging entire isolation wards, chances of infection spreading from infected
patient to a suspected patient admitted in the same ward cannot be ruled out.
Acting EHO Kubal admitted the loophole, however, he
added, “Right not we are focussing on creating beds for suspected cases.
Isolation chambers are not immediately possible.”
A civic official said, “The isolation facility is
getting arranged in accordance to the guidelines framed by experts in the city.
Noted doctors and senior HODs have given few suggestions which are being
In terms of protection to the medical staff which will
handle suspected or confirmed Ebola patients, the BMC already has as many as
600 body suits for staffers and doctors to wear.