Matthews Ridge residents concerned about health risks

…say regional officials tight-lipped on situation

Region One (Barima-Waini) health officials remain tight-lipped on the situation relating to the condition of the miners who are being assessed at Matthews Ridge, even as another Chinese miner fell ill and is being treated for a respiratory tract infection at the Pakera Hospital, in Matthews Ridge.
An official from the Manganese Company Inc told Guyana Times on Friday that another miner was admitted to the hospital, however, the official could not allude to the severity of the miner’s condition or whether he will be transferred to the city.
The Public Health Ministry in a statement said the miner’s condition was “critical” but “stable.”
While the operations at that manganese company’s worksite remain at a standstill, other operations of the company are progressing.

However, residents of Matthews Ridge have expressed concerns over the health risks involved and are furious that health officials are not disclosing information as to the seriousness of the situation.
“Every time I see them nurse and ask about it, they keep telling me we can’t talk we ain’t want get in trouble,” one resident told this newspaper on Friday. Several residents who reached out to this newspaper on Friday said that it is time the health authorities speak to persons living in the area since they are very worried about the situation.
Efforts to obtain a comment from the regional health authorities by Guyana Times proved futile.
This newspaper was told that the Matthews Ridge to Port Kaituma road has been closed to vehicles attached to the Manganese Company, however, the official from the company has denied this development.
Regional officials however could not offer a confirmation on this new development Friday.
Another Chinese miner died on Wednesday at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC), while several others who were brought out from the mining camp remain patients.
Chief Medical Officer of the GPHC, Dr Shamdeo Persaud, when contacted by this newspaper on Friday said tests are still being conducted even as they await results from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) about a possible diagnosis for the patients who did not test positive for leptospirosis. “When the results come back, whatever they are, we will disclose,” he said. He could not say when the results will return.
On Thursday, when Guyana Times visited the surgical bloc, it was observed that the miners were being kept in an isolated area that was cordoned off. A doctor was at the time administering checks on the patients; however, he was not allowed to offer any updates on the miners’ condition.
Meanwhile, the Ministry’s statement on Thursday confirmed the miners died from complications associated with leptospirosis while undergoing treatment at the GPHC. It also said two of those patients have since been discharged after successful treatment.
Dr Shamdeo Persaud has iterated that all precautionary measures are still in place at the Matthews Ridge tunnel site and its immediate surroundings, adding that essential medical supplies are in stock to treat employees of the mining firm and residents of the area.
Since last week’s outbreak, the area has been deemed a ‘Red Zone’ by Public Health Ministry authorities, and “no one is allowed to enter the site,” Dr Persaud reminded on Thursday.
The CMO has also stated that the hospital is continuing its evaluation of the miners, and additional tests are being done by CARPHA to obtain a diagnosis for some of the patients who were not tested positive for leptospirosis.
Reports are that post-mortem examinations conducted on the two miners – Zhong Zhenglong, 47; and Zi Zheng Guo, 47 – on Thursday morning revealed that they died from haemorrhagic pneumonia as a result of leptospirosis. The more than one dozen affected miners exhibited symptoms of pain, fever, headache and respiratory distress.
Meanwhile, on Thursday afternoon, when approached by the media for a comment on the diagnosis of the other ill Chinese workers, subject Minister Volda Lawrence refused to comment on the issue.
The manganese mining company has been instructed to halt further exploration until the Public Health Ministry and a team from the Occupational Health and Safety Department of the Social Protection Ministry advice further on the matter.

The quarantined area at the GPHC where the sick miners are being treated