Ministry comments as unknown disease affects coworkers


11-January-2013

Health commissioner Dr Jude Gédéon said this in an interview on Thursday, adding tests are being carried out locally to find the cause of the disease and that samples will soon be taken to South Africa to check if it could be the coronavirus which affected “clusters of people in the middle East recently”.

Dr Gédéon said there is yet no proof that the disease affecting the man now in hospital is spreading and the two were between 30 and 60 years,
but declined to give further details of their organisation, when they fell ill or what part of Seychelles (or other country) they come from.

He said the first patient died on Tuesday “and the other one was improving at first but has got worse”.

“There is no indication that the disease is being spread from one person to another. It could be from the environment but we do not know, that’s why we are sending samples abroad,” he said.

He said the Ministry of Health is working closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to find out the cause of the disease.

Dr Gédéon said investigations done by the ministry have not revealed any other cases, and people should not panic, but those who develop upper respiratory tract infections should visit a health centre.

 He added that one of those admitted seems to have waited a long time with the cough-like and fever symptoms without seeking medical attention.

He noted that the WHO recently raised an alert in the Middle East for a new virus and the local authorities sent the alert to all doctors in Seychelles to be on the lookout for people with severe respiratory symptoms and send them for further checks.

He said the disease that affected the two shows similarities of the Middle East cases caused by a coronavirus but there has been no confirmation it is the same illness neither have any general measures like border control or screening been advised.

Last month the WHO urged that surveillance for a new virus called human betacoronavirus 2c EMC/2012, should be extended to all countries worldwide, with a special focus on all clusters of severe pneumonia, particularly in health workers.

Supposed experts writing on the internet say epidemiologists say that the threat requires close monitoring, by investigating and controlling any new clusters of human cases that could signal that the virus has adapted to spread between people more easily.

The WHO reported a household cluster of four cases in Saudi Arabia, in which two people died.

 Tests looking for the coronavirus in samples from a cluster of 11 people who were admitted with serious respiratory symptoms to a hospital in Jordan in April revealed the virus in another two fatal cases pushing back the first known date of its emergence by several months and marking the first evidence for infection outside Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

“Although independent infections from the same animal or environmental source might explain these outbreaks, such clusters always raise the possibility of transmission between humans.

 Because the disease did not spread any further, however, person-to-person transmission of the virus – if it occurred at all — would have had to have been through close contact,” said some sources.

“Still, the extension of the disease to Jordan – and the identification of these earlier cases – marks a significant epidemiological development and suggests that infections may have gone undetected in other countries.”

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