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“Mass Gastroenteritis”downs 54 persons

A statement circulated last May 11, 2023 in social media by Saint Joseph College about an alleged “mass gastroenteritis” incident alarmed the concerned public. Concerned parents and students queried on-line of the possibility of the victims’ intake of food or drink unfit for consumption.
There were an estimated fifty-four (54) students and faculty members who experienced “mass gastroenteritis” and were admitted to different hospitals in the province and neighboring province of Leyte.
According to the school’s statement the incident reportedly happened during the Criminology Interns, Mapangahas Class, Ball 2023, at SJC Bishop Cantillas Gymnasium last May 8, 2023.
According to Suzanne Sandoval, faculty member of the Criminology Department, as of this writing, there were at least 54 (partial) students admitted, discharged and out-patient from different hospitals. Seven were admitted to Leyte Baptist in Hilongos, four of them were discharged; and six were out-patients.
Fourteen were admitted at the Salvacion Oppus Yñiguez Memorial Provincial Hospital (SOYMPH), and six were out-patients and six at Maasin Maternity Children Hospital (MMCH) in Maasin City. Two patients in Matalom Community Hospital, and one each from Christ the Healer and District Hospital in Sogod town.
Sandoval also disclosed that out of 100 attendees, 54 were dispatched while some of them stayed in their house, as they can manage the pain.
“The Crisis Management Committee (CMT) of SJC has been convened immediately to respond to this incident… All patients had been taken care of by health providers and our CMT has dispatched liaison persons to take care of the needs of the admitted patients as well as their respective accompanying persons.”
SJC coordinated with the City Health Unit of Maasin and Department of Health Southern Leyte in investigating the incident.
“All other symptomatic students who need not be admitted are closely monitored by the school’s medical personnel.”
“We have also been in contact with the food provider and are very proactive in following up on the health status of our affected students.”
One concerned Maasinhon, Yel Cobile, expressed on social media stating,
“Any corrective action implemented by the authorities should direct appropriate notification also to the city PNP and city attorney to launch investigation for ‘potential or purposeful’ criminal negligence. The possible cause of the outbreak should be mandated to temporarily cease and desist all service operation to prevent a recurrence as well as allow an undistracted or unimpeded official investigation.”
Meanwhile, City Mayor of Maasin, National Verano Mercado said that the City Health Office, Provincial Epidemiological and Surveillance Unit with the event’s organizers, are investigating the cause of the outbreak, and have asked the school to take all precautionary measures to “ensure the health and safety of the students.”
According to the SJC statement the event’s food provider is being investigated by the sanitary inspector of the LGU Maasin City.

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