Much in the manner of cholera following floods, slum-dwellers who had risked their lives to save people trapped in the fire-ravaged AMRI Hospital on Friday early morning are in danger of contracting serious diseases such as pneumonia.
A team of 11 doctors checked about 350 residents of the slum at a camp on December 10 and 11, and around 150 were found to be severe cases.
"The rescuers spent hours inside the building without gas masks, and this exposed them to serious ailments. Many still stayed inside and carried on with their mission. Carbon monoxide fumes and carbon dust accumulated in their lungs, stomach and blood," said Mridul Sarkar, a medical officer practising at the Park Clinic Hospital in south Kolkata.
"We found their lungs blocked, and the oxygen content in their blood low. There is a strong possibility that in this weather their weak lungs would easily contract pneumonia," Sarkar added.
The doctors highlighted the case of Samar Mondal, 33, who has a severe headache, respiratory problems and body ache. He has been diagnosed with chemical gastroenteritis and chemical pneumonitis.
Dinesh Mohanto, 32, has developed symptoms similar to Mondal, in addition to vomiting.
Livelihood issues have now begun to be overlaid on the AMRI Hospital fire tragedy, in which the number of lives lost has been corrected to 90.
Employees at the unit, which had lost its licence on the day of the fire on Friday, are comparing the tragedy to train accidents, for which no one talks of shutting down Indian Railways.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who went on a surprise visit to AMRI on Tuesday at around 11.45am, was greeted with protests by hospital staff members, who said the cancellation of the licence would mean a loss of about 3,000 jobs.