MUMBAI: Protocols to screen and treat patients with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-coronavirus (MERS-CoV) have been put in place at the civic-run Kasturba Hospital in Chinchpokli, which will act as a nodal centre should cases be detected. The 15-bed isolation facility at the hospital, put in place during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, will be used to quarantine patients.
Around 600 people come to the city from Saudi Arabia every day, and the numbers will increase to more than 1,000 once Haj pilgrims return. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had assigned the drawing up of protocols to infectious disease expert Dr Om Srivastava, who consults at Jaslok and Kasturba hospitals.
The centre is yet to come out with its guidelines. Around 1.7 lakh Indian Muslims will visit Haj this year. Barring a few standard operating protocols the BMC had used to tame H1N1 in the city, major changes in treatment options have been suggested.
Srivastava said that based on an understanding of cases globally and the disease pattern, he suggested that patients be started on aggressive treatment from the beginning. "Dual therapy, with double dosage, can arrest the progress of the ailment. It also takes care of cross-infection, common in our country. Treatment should last for at least five days," he said.
Protocols submitted to the BMC on Saturday talk of how to screen, treat and when and how to quarantine. Globally, 138 cases of MERS-CoV have been reported with a mortality rate of more than 50%. Srivastava said a staggering 70% patients who develop pneumonia may require ventilation, while chances of the infection turning fatal is 40%.
Srivastava said the protocols are based more on initial presentation of cases globally. "When we learn more about the virus or transmission, more defined ways of treating it will evolve," he said.