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China to evacuate its critically ill manganese workers from Guyana

China is to evacuate at least 12 of its critically ill manganese mine workers from Guyana on Monday, a well placed Public Health Ministry official said Saturday.

Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence could not be reached for comment and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud said he did not receive permission to speak with the media.

Sources had indicated that the Chinese air ambulance was expected in Guyana on Saturday.

Indications are that plans are already being made for at least two Chinese experts to accompany the sick men back to China.

The Public Health Ministry has said two of the Chinese nationals have since died, one of them from leptospirosis-related complications.

Sources said 47-year old Zhenglong Zong died on March 30 from septic shock and bilateral haemorrhagic pneumonia, and 45-year old Zengguo Ji died on April 3 from a similar condition.

No mention was made of leptospirosis, although medical experts say pneumonia and influenza-like symptoms are sometimes associated with leptospirosis.

The afflicted persons were working at the now temporarily closed manganese exploration operation being run by the Chinese mining company, Bosai Minerals Group.

The Public Health Ministry has sought assistance from the Pan American Health Organisation and the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency to diagnose the cause of the disease.

The Health Ministry has ruled out swine flu or chikungunya as the cause of the illness.