Sharjah floods: Volunteers wear PPE gear to prevent infections from sewage-tainted waters

Following the country's heaviest recorded rainfall, hospitals and clinics throughout the UAE have witnessed a surge in waterborne illnesses


Mazhar Farooqui

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Published: Tue 23 Apr 2024, 5:10 PM

Last updated: Tue 23 Apr 2024, 9:52 PM

Volunteers assisting in flood relief efforts in Sharjah are now wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) as they deliver vital supplies to neighbourhoods inundated with sewage-tainted water. This precautionary step comes after several volunteers fell ill and required hospitalisation over the weekend.

Following the country's heaviest recorded rainfall, hospitals and clinics throughout the UAE have witnessed a surge in waterborne illnesses.

In Sharjah, the situation is particularly challenging, prompting volunteers to undergo tetanus vaccinations and take medicines to mitigate the risk of bacterial infections before venturing into contaminated waters.

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Now, they have added PPE to their essential gear. Muneer Pandiyala, a volunteer at India Cultural Forum (ICF) said they have received 1,000 PPE kits from their parent body, Markaz Dubai yesterday, out of which 300 have already been handed out to volunteers including Sharjah Police. “These kits are proving invaluable in our relief efforts as they provide complete bodily protection and can be worn for up to six hours in water,” he said.

In response to urgent demands, the Rainsupport WhatsApp Group has also procured nearly 430 PPE kits for volunteers in the past two days. "Some smaller volunteer groups have requested for PPE kits from us and we are hoping to keep aside a few for them," stated a group member.

In Ajman, the Samantha Kerala Sunni Students Federation (SKSSF) has urgently sought 75 PPE units. "We have reports of many volunteers falling sick after spending hours without protection," the federation stated.

Since yesterday, trucks have been seen draining foul-smelling sewage-contaminated waters, tinged dark olive green, from affected areas in Sharjah such as Jamal Abdul Nasser Street, Al Wahda, and sections of Al Majaz. Despite these efforts, the situation remains grim. WhatsApp support groups are full with pleas for help from families who have fallen ill.

"We are a family of 10 members, including kids, and everyone is falling ill with symptoms such as high fever, vomiting and diarrhoea," wrote one individual in the group.

In response to the health crisis, several doctors and clinics have intensified their efforts, offering free medical aid, consultations, and advice to those affected.


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