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BMC gears up to tackle Ebola threat

The civic body is procuring Personal Protection Equipment suits (PPEs), which cover every part of the body; the suits will be given to medical staff treating suspected Ebola cases

The BMC is gearing up to tackle the threat of the dreaded Ebola virus, which has claimed the lives of close to 1,000 people in West Africa.

Also read: How taking precaution against Ebola virus ruined Mumbai man's vacation

A medical staffer at Berlin’s Charite Hospital puts on protective clothing during a demonstration of the proceedings at the quarantine office. Similar suits will be acquired by the civic body soon and sent to the Kasturba Hospital and Jogeshwari Trauma Centre. Pic/AFP
A medical staffer at Berlin’s Charite Hospital puts on protective clothing during a demonstration of the proceedings at the quarantine office. Similar suits will be acquired by the civic body soon and sent to the Kasturba Hospital and Jogeshwari Trauma Centre. Pic/AFP

As there is only one thing that can protect healthcare workers from contracting the deadly disease themselves a suit the civic body is now in the process of procuring Personal Protection Equipment suits (PPEs), which cover every part of the body.

The PPEs will be given to hospital staff treating any suspected cases of Ebola in civic-run Kasturba Hospital in Chinchpokli, where 10 beds have been set aside.

Other than that, staff at the Jogeshwari Trauma Centre will also receive the PPEs. The newly opened hospital is where passengers who recently travelled from West African countries will first be sent to from the airport, in case they show any symptoms.

Speaking to mid-day, Dr Padmaja Keskar, executive health officer, said, “We will finalise the number of suits and other protective gear that will be required once we get further details from the state government. We’ve asked them for the guidelines and requirements, in case of any Ebola cases, and will accordingly procure the protection equipment.”

Other than these two hospitals, state-run JJ hospital will have a room to quarantine suspected cases of Ebola. “Other tertiary healthcare centres like Sion and KEM hospitals are far too crowded to keep Ebola patients in isolation. So as of now, we are procuring PPEs only for Kasturba Hospital and Jogeshwari Trauma Centre," added Dr Keskar.

As of now, the Chinchpokli hospital has protective masks that can only be used while handling patients with swine flu or H1N1, and will fall far short of the mark when it comes to handling Ebola patients.

With the new suits, which include goggles, gloves and boots that give head-to-toe covering, doctors are still at a risk of contracting Ebola, if the suits are not put on or taken off properly.

This is because any exposure to bodily fluids like sweat, blood, vomit, etc transmit the virus. Hence, BMC health workers will also undergo training on how to use the protective gear.

The suit

The Personal Protection Equipment includes
>> A layer of scrubs
>> An impermeable Tyvek suit and hood
>> Rubber boots and overshoes
>> Mask and eye protection
>> A respirator 
>> Gloves.

Because the Ebola virus can only be transmitted through contact with bodily fluids, the suits are meant to protect the wearer from directly touching any contaminated fluids.

Infection control, through sterilisation of equipment and surfaces, is also extremely important, since the virus can also be contracted through contact with contaminated surfaces.

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