236 workers downed by food poisoning

AL GHARBIYA — More than 230 workers at a labour camp in the Western Region were downed by food poisoning in the last two days, prompting the Madinat Zayed Hospital to activate a disaster call and dispatch an emergency medical team to treat some of the workers on site.

By Olivia Olarte

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Published: Tue 29 Mar 2011, 12:17 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:25 AM

As of Sunday, the hospital treated a total of 236 patients, 117 at its premises and 119 at the camp in Habshan. Of these, 44 were admitted at the hospital, one for severe food poisoning symptoms while the others for moderate illness.

“This is the first time we received food poisoning cases of this scale. We activated our emergency disaster call and all hospital departments came to help and we were able to handle the cases,” Dr Rodhan Khethir, Medical Director of Madinat Zayed Hospital told Khaleej Times.

He added that many of those admitted at the hospital were already discharged now and the hospital authorities expected the remaining patients to be discharged by Monday.

According to Dr Emad Nasrallah, head of the hospital’s emergency department, the sick workers started coming in small numbers at 11.50am on Saturday and continued till Sunday. They complained of vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, fever, stomach cramps and abdominal pain, all symptoms of food poisoning. Some workers were given fluids intravenously and others were treated with antibiotics.

“It is food poisoning, but we don’t know the pathogen (an organism that causes illness) yet,” said Dr Nasrallah, noting that the affected workers from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh had their usual rice, meat and fish before the incident.

The Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) immediately closed down the staff kitchen at the Habshan camp while investigation is being carried out to determine the cause of poisoning.

Mohammed Jalal Al Reyaysa, Director of Communications and Community Service at the ADFCA said that the food authority had already taken samples of the food consumed by the workers for laboratory testing.

The ADFCA results will then be compared with the tests carried out by Madinat Zayed Hospital of the patients’ stool and blood to determine the pathogen that caused the workers to become sick.

“We are still investigating this incident and would not like to confirm anything before the investigation is completed. We are also investigating whether the company that catered the food to the labourers had the licence to cater food outside their premises. It is a serious incident and we are looking at all aspects to make sure nothing of this sort happens again in the future. We will announce the results of the investigation in the coming days,” Al Reyaysa said.

“This is a very critical issue and could go to the court. There will be consequences as this is a violation of the labourer’s right,” warned Al Reyaysa.


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