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Chinese nationals with respiratory problems to be quarantined at West Dem hospital; Region 1 residents urged to seek medical attention if necessary

The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said seven Chinese nationals who are suffering from a respiratory ailment, were due to be transferred to a regional hospital where they would be quarantined.

Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence was quoted Sunday by government’s Department of Public Information as saying the patients were to be transferred to the West Demerara Regional Hospital in Essequibo Islands/West Demerara (Region 3) where they would be isolated.

She made it clear that Swine flu (H1N1 virus) was not the cause of death of a Chinese national working at a manganese mining site in Barima/Waini (Region 1).

At the same time she said Ministry of Public Health specialists were still conducting “a battery of tests” to identify the virus blamed for the manganese miner’s death and the hospitalisation of eight others, including a lone Guyanese employee of the Guyana Manganese Incorporated (GMI) firm.

According to the Minister, “there is no determination (as yet) of what the ailment is but all the patients displayed similar symptoms including pain, fever, headache and respiratory distress.”

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Shamdeo Persaud said a “respiratory ailment” is to blame for the death and hospitalisation of the GMI workers.

The deceased worker was ailing for days before seeking medical attention at the Matthews Ridge Hospital last Thursday. He died Saturday. His body is to be airlifted to the capital Georgetown on Sunday.

The seven other ailing GMI employees were airlifted to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) for further treatment. Neither the deceased nor those currently hospitalised had travelled overseas recently.

“We are asking Region One residents to continue performing their usual hygiene habits such as washing their hands after visiting the washroom; covering their mouths when coughing,” Lawrence said.”If you are not feeling well go to a health facility,” the Minister counselled.

Lawrence said a team of officials including a pathologist, a Senior Environmental Health Officer, a mortuary attendant, and an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specialist will be visiting the manganese mining site from Sunday.

She said the team will be complemented by medical specialists, including Regional Health Officer (RHO) Dr Vishal Ramdas, operating in Barima/Waini, among others.

Meanwhile, Lawrence Saturday night hailed the collaboration among the MoPH, the GPHC, PAHO/WHO and other partners and and said she will “work with neighbouring territories to exchange information” about the ongoing health crises in the Southern Hemisphere.