More athletes hospitalized

92 Tagum delegates downed by stomach aches

MORE athletes attending the Davao Regional Athletics Association (DAVRAA) Meet 2018 were downed by stomach ache, Sunday night.

On the first night of the DAVRAA Meet 2018 on Sunday, 92 delegates from Tagum City complained of similar pains experienced by 38 Mati City athletes a night earlier.

The City Health Office sent 36 of the athletes to the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) for further testing, while the rest were under observation at the San Roque Elementary School in Bo. Obrero, Poblacion District where they are billeted.

The city government, through its CHO and Central 911 staff, and other groups such as the Coast Guard and Philippine Red Cross (PRC) rushed to the school after some of the delegates, mostly students, complained of stomach pains by dinner time around 8 p.m.

Emergency responders were ready for the worst as around 90 delegates complained of pain.

In the worst case, personnel from Central 911 were ready to wheel the students to San Pedro Hospital, which is located just a kilometer from the school.

But the CHO decided to send only 36 patients to SPMC, also a kilometer away from the school, for medical treatment.

CHO officials sought samples of the food products consumed by the patients, which included chocolate and milk drinks, as well as bottled water. Samples were sent to the CHO laboratories for analysis.

As of this writing, the SPMC and health officials did not yet release the results of the analysis of the affected students.

Central 911 personnel then conducted sweeps of the other billeting areas around the city to see if there were other cases of the symptoms of food poisoning.

City Health Officer Dr. Josephine Villafuerte said the incident happened even as the city’s sanitation office assisted the various kitchens set up at different billeting areas around the city.

Starting yesterday, the CHO assigned two food safety inspectors at each of the billeting centers to ensure that food consumed by the delegates are safe to eat.

The Department of Education (DepEd) earlier said that each contingent is in charge of feeding its own delegation.

This meant that each delegation has a “kitchen cabinet” team, which comprised mostly of technology and livelihood education teachers and kitchen staff.

Meanwhile, parents of those confined students wondered if their children could be given special consideration during the DAVRAA competition while some of the athletes were in tears fearing they could no longer compete.

On Saturday night, 38 delegates from Mati City were also down due to acute gastroenteritis. All were rushed to the SPMC.

CHO said 34 student athletes, three coaches, and one kitchen staff suffered from the infection that affected the Mati delegation.

The CHO said the infections were caused by spoiled leftovers to patients, with the food remaining from the previous night served the next day from breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Mayor Sara Duterte asked the Department of Education and the Local Government Unit of Mati to investigate the teachers and the persons in charge of the group for the “reckless action (that) resulted in the injury of 38 individuals, many of whom were children entrusted by their parents to those who purported to take care of them.”

“This obvious cost cutting on the budget for the meals is tantamount to corruption and should be dealt with severely,” Duterte said in a statement released by the City Information Office. “Limited resources should not be an excuse for reckless behavior which endangers the lives of people, especially children.”

The DAVRAA meet opened Sunday morning in the city, gathering around 7,000 athletes from around the region.