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Update: Health authorities probe if respiratory infection killed 1 Chinese national, sickened 8 others

Health authorities were Saturday probing whether nine Chinese nationals in northwestern Guyana were suffering from a severe respiratory infection.

Director of government’s Department of Public Information Imran Khan said Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud informed that “they are investigating Severe Acute Respiratory Infection, not H1N1 specifically.”

Khan said health authorities promised  to “provide a detailed report shortly”.

Authorities refuted reports in sections of the media that there is a swine flu outbreak.

One of the persons has since died.

The Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, according to a Ministry of Public Health official, was “still running a battery of tests” to determine the type of viral infection.

At the same time, the Public Health Ministry spokesman said the eight sickened persons have been isolated from other patients.

“The patients are isolated at the tertiary institution,” he said.

Up to Saturday evening information was scanty, and the Public Health Ministry did not issue a statement.

Apart from official confirmation by the Regional Health Services (RHS) Director, Dr. Kay Shako that an undiagnosed disease struck the nine persons, the Public Health Ministry has been silent on the occurrence.

Earlier Saturday, Dr. Shako dismissed as “inaccurate” reports in other sections of Guyana’s media that the patients were afflicted with Swine flu.

“We have to wait to see what is the diagnosis…We are yet to confirm. We don’t know what it is,” the the RHS Director told Demerara Waves Online News.

The workers were reportedly working at a manganese mine owned by the Chinese company, Guyana Manganese Incorporated (GMI).

Dr. Shako confirmed that one of the nine persons, who was admitted to the Pakero Hospital in Region One (Barima-Waini), complained of fever, rash and respiratory discomfort. “Since we are up on the alert for measles and immunisable diseases, we think we should be cautious and deal with it at a more serious nature so they were medevaced to the Georgetown Hospital.”

Guyana can seek the assistance from the CARICOM-affiliated Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to test for a range of diseases, officials said.