Taking note of the increase in the number of confirmed cases, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has now planned to procure 50 ventilators on an immediate basis.

This comes after the positive coronavirus cases in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) have increased to 123, of which 88 are from Mumbai and 35 outside the city.

Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner, health, BMC, said that the virus leads to severe lower respiratory tract infections due to which patients need ventilator support.

“We have decided to procure 50 ventilators and budgetary provision has been made for the same. Moreover, we have also given 60 dysfunctional ventilators, which were lying in major hospitals, for repair,” he said.

Currently, including all the four major civic-run hospitals and Kasturba Gandhi Hospital, BMC has 600 ventilators. Due to the plunge in the number of admissions in these hospitals, several ventilators are lying unused and can be used in COVID-19 isolation wards in emergencies. But considering the 12 million population of Mumbai, the number will be inadequate, according to medical experts.

Dr Om Srivastava, a city-based epidemiologist, said patients need ventilators only when they are at the end stage of the treatment and have severe breathing problems. People with cardiac problems or smoking habits might need it at an early stage of treatment. “The virus first attacks the upper respiratory tract when the patient develops sore throat and fever. If the patient is not treated on time or has weak immunity, the virus reaches the lower respiratory tract and complications develop. As senior people with comorbid health ailments are most vulnerable, ventilators become essential for them,” he said.

Most of the ventilator parts in India are imported from Europe and China. But due to the pandemic, the production has been delayed. Ashok Patel, CEO of Max Ventilators, said, “Ventilators are a compilation of different parts that are imported from Japan and the USA. We are even dependent on other countries for smaller parts like resistors and diodes. But due to the outbreak and restrictions on transport, the supply has been hit badly for the last two months.”

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