6 more sickened mine workers flown to city; Guyana gov’t temporarily halts manganese exploration

Last Updated on Monday, 15 April 2019, 21:45 by Writer

Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.

Even as six more sickened persons were flown from Guyana’s North West District to Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) for emergency treatment, the Public Health Ministry Monday night said two of the 13 who have fallen ill so far were tested positive for leptospirosis.

“While the specialists continue to work on the seven patients admitted on Saturday, results have shown that two patients tested positive for Leptospirosis which is known to be spread by direct contact with rat urine or faeces,” the Ministry said.

Guyanese authorities have since definitively ruled out Swine flu (H1N1), Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue, and Influenza A and B as possible causes of the recent spate of illnesses and one death in Matthews Ridge.

The Health Ministry announced that the Chinese-owned manganese mining company has been “instructed to halt further exploration until the Ministry of Public Health and a team from the Occupational Health and Safety department of the Ministry of Social Protection advise further. “The Ministry of Public Health along with partners will continue to monitor the situation closely until resolution.”

Government said further tests are being conducted locally and samples will be sent overseas with support from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) “to get further tests done to rule out other possible infections.”

“Thus far there has been no evidence of person to person transmission of infection. It is noted that only persons who were directly exposed to one common area became ill,” the ministry added.

As of Sunday, March 31, government said a response team comprising Environmental Protection Agency, Surveillance, Environmental Health experts , doctors and nurses were dispatched to Region 1 (Barima-Waini) to support the efforts taken to address the illnesses.

The Health Ministry said the fortified health response focuses on providing uninterrupted health services to the residents of Matthews Ridge and conducting health assessments of all persons working in the mining area.

The decision was taken to transfer all patients with the acute respiratory illness, rash and fever to the GPHC where critical care can be provided should the need arise. “We are taking all necessary precautions to ensure staff and members of the community at Matthews Ridge are kept safe,” the ministry added.