MSF scales up in response to India’s COVID-19 second wave

28 Apr 2021

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF / Doctors Without Borders) has scaled-up its emergency response amid a surging second wave of COVID-19 in Mumbai in Maharashtra state. India recently broke a global record when it recorded more than 300,000 new infections in a single day, with a whopping 115,736 new cases reported in Maharashtra state on a single day on 16 April.


A patient gets his temperature checked at MSF's facility in M East ward, Mumbai. © Abhinav Chatterjee / MSF

“The situation is very worrying. This is the largest upsurge since the pandemic started. MSF stands ready to further pace up its services in support of the health facilities that are currently completely overwhelmed.”

Dilip Bhaskaran
COVID-19 Coordinator for MSF in Mumbai

Mumbai is very densely populated and the poor and dilapidated hygiene conditions are a triple trigger for the virus to breed, infect and spread rapidly.

MSF supports jumbo hospital

We're preparing to support two units within a ‘Jumbo’ hospital in Mumbai. The units will include two sets of tents with about 1,000 intensive care unit bed capacity in each. Five additional medical doctors and five nurses have been recruited to strengthen the response.


MSF Nurses sealing samples and preparing the package to be sent to TB laboratory for diagnosis in Mumbai. © Atul Loke /MSF

Protecting vulnerable patients from COVID-19

Since 2006, we have been treating patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) and complicated forms of HIV in Mumbai. 

Our teams are actively identifying cases, conducting screening and appropriate triage for infection prevention and control for TB patients at Shatabdi hospital and the MSF independent clinic. Patients co-infected with COVID-19 and TB are being referred for inpatient management and treatment to Sewri hospital.

“Most of our 256 patients come from the informal settlements where, due to poor living conditions, the risk of disease is high.”

Dr Hemant Sharma
Project Coordinator of MSF’s COVID-19 response in Mumbai

Non-TB patients with COVID-19 that need admission are referred to dedicated COVID-19 Health Centre (DCHC) facilities. We're also providing prevention kits, counselling and phone follow-up to high-risk patients, including TB and diabetes patients and the elderly. 


MSF staff distributing soap and masks to street hawkers, Mumbai. © Abhinav Chatterjee / MSF

To ensure continuity of care, MSF continues to support four health centres in the M-East Ward of Mumbai. We've started health promotion and water and sanitation activities in the M-East Ward and our activities will be extended to five more health facilities and we will continue to provide medical and technical support with oxygen supplies and therapy.


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