By Melissa Johnson
NEW AMSTERDAM, BERBICE – Scores of persons were rushed to the New Amsterdam and Georgetown Hospitals last night for suspected food poisoning, shortly after consuming a meal at a Community Policing Group Retreat in Berbice.
A Senior Official of the Guyana Police Force said that the number of persons treated at the New Amsterdam Hospital stood at 75 up to 19:00 hours.
Six police ranks were among those admitted to the New Amsterdam Hospital, including Assistant Superintendent Leroy Albert, Inspector McCaskey, Sergeant Figuera, a Lance Corporal and two Constables.
There were also several cases at the Fort Wellington and Port Mourant Hospitals. Kaieteur News also understands that some of the affected persons including Michelle Outridge of the Guyana Chronicle and other members of the media, travelled to the city to be treated at the GPHC, since the medical institutions in Berbice were overwhelmed.
An official said that it is suspected that there may be cases at Mahaicony Cottage Hospital since the members of the Community Policing Groups were not only from New Amsterdam and its environs. Three members of the same family who reportedly prepared the meal were detained. One of them is said to be a senior official in the Community Policing Group initiative.
A gentleman who identified himself as the Assistant Treasurer of the Community Policing Group (CPG) Executive body, Tomardwhaj said the function was held in the auditorium of the Berbice High School and attended by scores of persons, including Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee.
According to Tomardwhaj, the catering was done by someone on the West Coast of Berbice.
About four hours after the commencement of the retreat, lunch was served. It consisted of fried rice, a slice of cucumber and what appeared to be baked chicken.
Fareeda Ally of Angoy’s Avenue in New Amsterdam, with tears in her eyes, related that her mother, 56-year old Bibi Sohora Azeez and her cousin, who is in the 40s, Nazreem Khan, attended the function and ate the meal.
After they got home they both became ill. “They start getting diarrhoea, vomiting, collapsing and so. Then me mother say she want go to the hospital. When I come to the hospital with she, I see a whole set a people. Nuff of them on the ground vomiting and so. Who ain’t faint away just deh lie down vomiting.”
Abdul Azeez said his wife, Bibi Sohora Azeez called him and told him she was not well. “When I come to the hospital I see almost 100 people deh here. Police, civilian, community policing people, Corporal, all kind of people. They get poison. Is not everybody eat the same food, some eat different food.”
A woman, who requested anonymity, said she and her husband attended the retreat. She did not partake in the meal. “He eat the food. Was fry rice and chicken they give at the retreat. They start sharing the food till about 1 o’clock (13:00 hours) and people start get sick and vomiting. As soon as me husband come to the hospital, they give he saline.”
The man was subsequently admitted to the New Amsterdam Hospital.
“The doctor say he get food poisoning.”
Neville Andrews of Edinburgh, who is also a member of the community policing body, said he did not like the way the food was smelling.
“I been to the retreat with Rohee. The people eat the food and about ten minutes after, they start vomiting. My son eat the food. He is nine years old. He vomiting blood. Me ain’t eat the food because it didn’t smelling good. I smell it and it smell like grammoxone. I know about grammoxone.”
A man related, “The big ones ain’t eat that food. They eat different food. They give we the poison food. But why?”
Parboo Androod of the Fyrish/Kilcoy Community Policing Group was not affected as much as his colleagues. “Me eat the food. Me feeling like me want vomit. I eat half box of the food. Me head hurting, I want vomit. The nurse give me injection. They say let everybody who eat the food take the injection.”
Lomattie Samaroo of Number Three Village on the West Coast of Berbice collapsed when she learnt of the condition of her son.
“He is 17, he name Goberdhan Barran. He did taking notes at the retreat. He eat the food and in there (A&E), if you see how he looking.”
A gentleman said he assisted in transporting persons to the hospital.
“Awe eat the food, then when me done, I go by the back of the school to pass urine. I see about 20 people deh in the school yard vomiting. Me run back inside and tell the man who is the organiser that something wrong. He tell me let we carry them hospital.”
Meanwhile, spectators gathered in the compound of the New Amsterdam Hospital as they tried to get a glimpse of the victims. Relatives and friends uttered words of prayer for their loved ones as doctors and nurses fought to control the situation. The compound also had traces of regurgitated food and small amounts of blood.
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