CASTRIES, St Lucia, Tuesday March 20, 2018 – Investigations are continuing into the sudden deaths of four St Lucians, with the Ministry of Health saying it had received a sample of the substance allegedly responsible for the tragedies.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Merlene Fredericks said the sample has been passed on to the relevant authorities for testing.
“At this point in time we can’t speak to absolutely what this sample is, but we can say that it was a clear, colourless liquid resembling water or strong rum,” she said.
“We believe that there is a toxin, and we’re encouraging persons, should anyone come into contact with the substance or have any sample of it, to either bring it to us so that we can pass it on to the authorities for testing, or dispose of it properly. Ensure that you pour it into the ground and that it disappears. Do not throw away a container containing the substance in the event that someone else picks it up and ingests it.”
Four people, who all lived in Coolie Town, on the western coast of the island, drank alcohol after a funeral and died within days of each other. The Ministry of Health said the patients went to the Victoria Hospital at varying times with unusual symptoms, including sudden onset of blindness, abdominal pain. It said that in some cases, the patients rapidly became unconsciousness before dying.
Dr Fredericks noted that as of yesterday, there have been no additional cases of severe illness or death. However, some people who felt they may have consumed the substance came forward in order to get tested over the weekend.
“We referred approximately 10 persons to the Victoria Hospital for testing and follow up. Those cases were relatively mild, but out of precaution and given that they indicated that they may have been exposed, we referred them to the Victoria Hospital where they could be tested and treated appropriately,” she explained.