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Maharashtra officials to discuss SARS

By Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai
April 03, 2003 11:29 IST
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The office of the Maharashtra director of health has called a meeting on Friday of all deans of government hospitals to discuss the issue of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, a new kind of pneumonia that has taken more then fifty lives around the world.

According to State Director of Health Services Subhash Salunke, the government has kept a special room for SARS patients at the Chattrapati Shivaji Mumbai International Airport and doctors will attend to them as soon as they arrive.

"Our government is taking maximum precaution and I am in regular touch with all the health ministry officials..." said state Health Minister Digvijay Khanvilkar.

"I am also in touch with airport officials and we all are keeping a close tab on all passengers from Southeast Asia, from where this disease has emerged," Khanvilkar added.

The government has also provided special rooms at the Kasturba Hospital in south Mumbai and the V N Desai Hospital at Santa Cruz, which is 10km away from the airport.

"We are taking all measures to prevent the SARS disease from entering Maharashtra and are in constant touch with various departments," said Khanvilkar.

The government may also import N95 masks, which will be given to patients and the doctors who treat them.

The surgical mask and the N95 mask are effective in containing the spread of virus.

According to the World Health Organisation, patients suffering from SARS and their doctors should wear N95 masks.

However, Salunke said that surgical masks are just as effective.

"At present, we will manage the patients with surgical masks, which are good and reliable," he said adding there are plans to buy N95 masks.

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Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai