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Third name added to city ‘hitlist’ as hospitals take guard

Asitabha Purakayastha, Jamil Ahmed… Radheyshyam Gupta.

The government, on Monday, added a third name, that of a middle-aged businessman, to the city SARS list. Gupta, the second patient after Purakayastha to test positive for the virus (while Ahmed remains a ‘suspect’), had returned from Bangkok on April 18 and was admitted to Beleghata’s Infectious Diseases Hospital the next day.

The National Institute of Virology in Pune conveyed the test results to Writers’ Buildings over telephone on Monday afternoon. Director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee later said Gupta was “doing well”.

Chatterjee held a series of meetings with senior officials and minister of state for health Pratyush Mukherjee to discuss the next anti-SARS set of steps.

“We have declared the ID Hospital a nodal hospital to handle SARS and appointed two cardiologists, four physicians and four nurses specifically to handle SARS cases there,” said Chatterjee.

Senior health officials said a circular was issued to the ID Hospital authorities during the day, asking them not to release patients even on “risk bonds”, as was done in the case of Purakyastha from AMRI Apollo Hospitals.

“We want to play safe. We feel it is a public health hazard and SARS suspects should not be allowed to roam around freely,” a health department official said.

Policemen will also be posted outside the isolation ward of ID Hospital to prevent any SARS patient from leaving without permission. Five to 10 beds have been kept aside for SARS suspects in the city medical colleges and some private hospitals.

Calcutta Medical College will accommodate all maternity cases of SARS suspects. Private units Westbank Hospital and Apollo Gleneagles Hospital have set up separate teams to combat SARS and reserved a few beds for virus victims.

The government has also asked the authorities of Calcutta Medical College and Hospital to organise an awareness camp on SARS on Friday.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has, meanwhile, set up a 12-man panel and sent a string of recommendations to the government. “We have told the government that only the N/95 and P/100 masks have very small pores and must be procured immediately. The present use of surgical masks by doctors exposes them to the risk of infection,” said IMA joint secretary (headquarters) R.D. Dubey.

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