Health Ministry refutes claims of Swine Flu outbreak

-says Chinese Nationals suffered from “respiratory ailment”

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Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence has refuted claims of a Swine Flu (H1N1) outbreak in Region One.

The iNews media house on Saturday blamed the virus for the death of one worker attached to the Guyana Manganese Inc (GMI) firm at Mathews Ridge, Region One and the hospitalization of seven others.

The men were rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital on Saturday.

The Minister in a statement late Saturday night said, “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.”

According to Minister Lawrence, as of Saturday night, Health specialists were still conducting “a battery of tests” to identify the virus.

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

Guyana Manganese Inc. Mathews Ridge location (Photo taken from company’s website)

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

The statement clarified that neither the deceased nor those currently hospitalised had travelled overseas recently.

The seven patients are to be transferred to the West Demerara Regional Hospital in Essequibo Islands/West Demerara (Region Three) on Sunday, and will be isolated, the Public Health Minister said.

Minister Lawrence further noted a team of officials including a Pathologist, a Senior Environmental Health Officer; a mortuary attendant, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specialist will be visiting the manganese mining site on Sunday.

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

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

“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 as she urged persons feeling unwell to visit a medical facility.

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