Sick Chinese men air-dashed from Region 1 still undiagnosed

…but health minister rules out Swine Flu

More than 24 hours have passed since the eight Chinese men were medevacked to the Georgetown Public Hospital, but they remained undiagnosed.
However, as health officials continue to run a battery of tests, Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence, in a statement to the media on Sunday morning, ruled out the suspected H1N1 diagnosis.

Public Health Minister
Volda Lawrence

The men were air-dashed to the capital city on Saturday afternoon after they fell severely ill at Matthews Ridge, Region One (Barima-Waini) and were experiencing symptoms related to the H1N1 virus commonly called “Swine Flu”.
Guyana Times was told that the symptoms the men displayed included fever, cough, headache, body aches, respiratory issues and unstable vital signs.
One man has already died from the symptoms he experienced.
Reports are that a medical team from the Mabaruma Hospital had been deployed to the Matthews Ridge area following reports that some persons were exhibiting signs and symptoms of the deadly disease. About 14:30h on Saturday, four ambulances filled with medical staff, who were all suited up with protective gear, arrived at the Eugene F Correia International Airport to receive the men.
Some were seen coughing and needed assistance from the plane to the ambulances. All eight persons are Chinese who were working with Guyana Manganese Inc in Region One.
This publication was told that on receiving reports of the men’s condition, officials at Georgetown Public Hospital began taking precautionary measures by quarantining an area for the eight patients.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, the Public Health Minister said that 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 solitary Guyanese who is an employee of the Guyana Manganese Inc (GMI) firm.”
According to the statement released by Minister Lawrence, “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.”
She noted that the deceased worker was ailing for days before seeking medical attention at the Matthews Ridge Hospital last Thursday. He died Saturday.
When contacted on Saturday afternoon, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shamdeo Persaud had said that it was too early to presume that the men have “swine flu, dengue, or any other deadly disease”.
But even as the hospital is yet to diagnose the men, Regional Health Services (RHS) Director, Dr Kay Shako has also denied that the men were suffering from swine flu.
Just a few months ago, in January, Minister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr Karen Cummings, said that the re-emergence of the H1N1 virus in the Caribbean Region was cause for great concern among public health officials throughout the Region, but Guyana has already been on heightened alert since the discovery of the H1N1 virus in neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago.
At that time, the Ministry had voiced its call for each person to practise good hygiene – wash hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based rub and to cover mouth and nose with tissue when sneezing or coughing.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth and avoid close contact – you are expected to be about six feet away from a person suffering from the H1N1 virus.
Persons are being advised to drink plenty fluids, stay at home and rest to treat the fever and see your primary care physician should they contract the virus.
Health-care workers are asked to ensure that they practise infection control and use personal protective equipment.
Some of the symptoms of Swine Flu are: fever (but not always); chills; cough; sore throat; runny or stuffy nose; watery, red eyes; body aches; headache; fatigue; diarrhoea; nausea and vomiting.