The Ministry of Health is keeping close tabs on a perilous situation which developed over the weekend at the Vieux-Fort Sea Port. According to Senior Medical Officer Sharon Belmar-George, on Sunday March 9th, a cargo vessel from Guyana arrived at the southern port carrying one deceased crew member and another who was visibly ill. The ministry, which is working in tandem with officials from the Marine Police, St Lucia Fire Service and the St Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority, quickly dispatched a contingent to the site of the incident.
“A team of health officials boarded the vessel and based on that initial assessment, we were able to commence a response. From the initial assessment, this lead to the hospitalization of one of the crew members, who was sick on the vessel and we also initiated an emergency post mortem on one of the crew members who passed away on the Saturday, en route to St Lucia,” said Belmar-George.
There were other individuals on board the ship and they have also been kept under close observation.
“We provided an assessment of the other 8 crew members, who were still on board the vessel and using the quarantine act we were able to quarantine and detain the crew members and the cargo on board the vessel. The Ministry of Health, as I indicated, [is] working closely with our local partners, the St Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority, the Fire Service and the Marine Police in managing the situation. We are also communicating with the chief medical officer in Guyana and the regional agencies of the Caribbean Public Health Agency and the Pan American Health Organization in terms of managing the health situation.”
The team has been able to reach a possible diagnosis and is providing care accordingly.
“Our preliminary reports that we have received so far indicates that it seems to be bronco-pneumonia as the cause of death for the crew passenger and also the passenger who is currently admitted at our St Jude hospital. We are also continuing our assessment of the other eight passengers, providing them with health care, and whatever else that is needed while they are on board the ship in our waters. Presently, the other eight crewmen are healthy and fine and we are continually monitoring them while they remain in quarantine. The Ministry of Health is working with the other agencies to ensure the safety and management of everybody involved.”
Belmar-George is aware of the safety concerns surrounding the present conditions including the possibility of contamination. She wants to assure the public that every precaution is being taken.
“The Ministry of Health is working with our local partners to ensure the safety of everybody including the crew, the nine crew members; the one admitted to St Jude’s Hospital and the eight crew members still on board the vessel. And we have ensured full protection of our health care workers who have been working with the members ensuring their management and care during this time.”
Belmar-George and her staff are still waiting on further tests to paint a complete picture of the specific type of respiratory illness they are dealing with.
The vessel was scheduled to depart on Tuesday.