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A&E Department evacuated ‘out of an abundance of caution’

A&E Department evacuated ‘out of an abundance of caution’


A Nigerian Medical student, who has a history of Malaria, is being treated for a Malaria relapse at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH).

This was confirmed by the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, after the Accident and Emergency Department (ER) of the MCMH was evacuated yesterday afternoon,{{more}} fuelling rumours that a patient exhibiting symptoms of Ebola had turned up at the hospital.

Another patient, who was also seeking medical attention at the MCMH, said that sometime after 2 p.m., he and a number of other patients were moved from the ER and asked to take up temporary accommodation at the District Clinic, located at the entrance of MCMH.

He said that they were not told why they were being evacuated, but rumours quickly spread that a Nigerian female showing signs of Ebola had been admitted to the ER.

The scare panicked some health workers assigned to the ER, who, like patients, headed for the door.

Another patient said that he noticed that security and medical personnel were given protective gear, including face masks and gloves.

One non-medical employee of the hospital explained that they were asked by hospital personnel, as a precautionary measure, to wear masks and gloves.

He said that persons were saying that a Nigerian was showing signs of Ebola, but it was later determined that the symptoms were not of Ebola, but of Malaria.

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment issued a press release shortly after the incident, in which Chief Medical Officer Dr Simone Keizer-Beache confirmed that a Nigerian medical student who has a history of Malaria is being treated for a Malaria relapse at the hospital.

The Chief Medical Officer, however, emphasized that because of the current surveillance system for Ebola, “the Ministry was able to quickly determine that this person does not meet the criteria to be considered as a suspect case. Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, the Accident and Emergency Department at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital was temporarily cleared of all ambulant patients for a brief period [Monday] afternoon,” the release said.

Keizer-Beache stressed in the release that the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment is working closely with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in the management of the patient, who is currently being treated in the Isolation Unit at the MCMH, “as is required for any Malaria patient.”

This is not the first time that Malaria has been diagnosed in St Vincent and the Grenadines, but it has always been found in foreigners. This particular patient has been in the country for approximately two weeks.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals, caused by parasitic protozoans (a type of single cell-microorganism of the Plasmodium type).

Malaria causes symptoms that typically include fever, fatigue, vomiting and headaches. In severe cases, it can cause yellow skin, seizures, coma or death. These symptoms usually begin 10 to 15 days after being bitten. The disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito.

This type of mosquito is present in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The disease is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions that are present in a broad band around the equator. This includes much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in 2012, there were 207 million cases of Malaria. That year, the disease is estimated to have killed between 473,000 and 789,000 people, many of whom were children in Africa.

Meanwhile, in 2014, this country recorded its first case of the mosquito borne Chikungunya virus, which has some of the same symptoms of Malaria (fever, headache, fatigue, vomiting). Chikungunya, spread by the Aedes Aegypt mosquito, has infected hundreds of persons here.

Malaria is endemic in Haiti and is also present in the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Suriname and Belize.