Sunday, 17 August 2014

No need to panic over Ebola: BMC officer

MUMBAI: The BMC is concerned about a number of people who have returned from Ebole-hit countries being untraceable. The Ebola outbreak, which is restricted to four West African nations (Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria), has claimed over 1,000 lives. Although there are no direct flights from these nations to Mumbai, three airlines (Emirates, South African and Ethiopian Airlines) operate transit flights through these nations.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has directed that in-flight announcements be made for self-reporting by travellers who have signs or symptoms of Ebola. They will be given health forms seeking information about their visit to any of the affected countries in the last 21 days. So far, a few suspects have been identified in various Indian cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, prompting the entire health machinery across the country to come up with a protocol about identification and isolation.

"There is no reason to panic. We are just being cautious. We will have a telephonic interview at regular intervals with these passengers to check if they later develop any Ebola virus infection symptoms," BMC's chief epidemiology officer Dr Mangala Gomare said.

The Maharashtra Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) released its anti-Ebola plan last week, identifying eight hospitals that will have 10 beds each for any suspected patients. In Mumbai, suspected patients from the airport will be quarantined at the BMC's trauma hospital in Jogeshwari. Their samples will be sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune for testing. Depending on the results 24 hours later, the confirmed patient will be sent to BMC's medical colleges (KEM, Sion or Nair hospitals) or its Kasturba Infectious Diseases Hospital near Saat Raasta. The state government-run JJ Hospital will have 19 beds dedicated for Ebola patients.



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