Mumbai sets up Ebola centre in Jogeshwari

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, has drawn up a plan to contain the possible spread of the Ebola virus and has designated the new underused trauma care centre at Jogeshwari, Bal Thackeray Trauma Care Centre, as the first line of defence for the country's financial capital.

The civic health department said on Friday that patients with a travel history to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria will remain under scanning for up to 21 days, which is the disease's incubation period.

Health officials will also write to airport authorities to share the contact details and addresses of flyers who have travelled to any of the affected countries in the 20 days before their arrival in the city.

Those who are asymptomatic will only be followed up by healthcare workers, but those who show signs of fever, cold, muscle-ache, bleeding, or vomiting will be quarantined at the Bal Thackeray Trauma Care Centre.

Those who test positive for the virus will be shifted to Kasturba Hospital for Infectious Diseases or JJ Hospital. Around 10 beds at the Kasturba Hospital at Mumbai Chinchpokli area hospital have been kept ready for patients with Ebola.

"The risk of the virus migrating to the city is very low," said Dr Padmaja Keskar, the BMC's executive health officer, who added that precautions will be taken nonetheless.

"We will send samples to the National Institute of Virology in Pune for testing as and when we get suspect cases," she said.

Dr Keskar added that the Centre and the state of Maharashtra have already furnished the institute with information on the virus and prevention methods. She said they will also look into the gear needed for healthcare workers.

 Since its outbreak in December 2013, Ebola has claimed 932 lives in the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.

The union civil aviation ministry, in a note to officials of Mumbai and Delhi airports on Thursday, said Emirates Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways operate transit flights from some of these destinations to Mumbai and Delhi; and passengers in transit should be checked for the virus.

Dubai-based carrier Emirates has suspended its flights to Conakry in Guinea, said an airline spokesperson. But operations in Nigeria continue.

At Mumbai airport, immigration and customs officers have been asked to look out for passengers with Ebola symptoms.