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Agusan del Sur residents hospitalized due to stomachache, vomiting, LBM reach 216 – PRC

Residents of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur brought to the hospital after experiencing stomach ache, vomiting, and loose bowel movement have climbed to 216, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) reported Wednesday.

In a Super Radyo dzBB interview, PRC secretary general Dr. Gwendolyn Pang, citing local government data, said that 90 of the patients at the Esperanza Medicare Community Hospital have already been discharged since Tuesday.

Following the incident, a meeting was held between provincial and local officials to determine the cause of the sickness.

“‘Yun ang hindi pa namin alam kasi still ito ay sinusuri pa ng local officials. Darating ang ibang results from CARAGA pa, inaantay din namin ‘yon,” Pang said.

(We do not have details about that yet because it's still being examined by local officials. Other results will still arrive from CARAGA, we are also waiting for that.)

The incident happened last February 19.

Pang said local officials gathered water samples from the area and investigated the food the residents have eaten.

“‘Yung area is very isolated, kailangang magbangka para makarating doon,” she said.

(The area is very isolated, you need to ride a boat to reach it.)

“Ang nakita initially, na hindi ko ma-confirm, pero naririnig lang namin, ay may iba po na possible na may amoebiasis. Ito po ay potentially water and food borne,” she added.

(What was seen initially, although I have yet to confirm, we heard that some may have amoebiasis. This is potentially water and food borne.)

Prior to the incident, Pang said PRC-trained personnel and volunteers conducted food distribution in Agusan del Sur.

“Meron po tayong menu, meron po tayong tray na ibinibigay. Lahat ng Agusan del Sur na team ay galing ng Agusan del Sur. However ‘yung food truck na ginamit ay galing sa Cebu pa,” she said.

(We have a menu, we have trays provided. All Agusan del Sur teams came from Agusan del Sur. However, the food truck was all the way from Cebu.)

Pang added that PRC volunteers ate the same food the locals have eaten.

“Kung ano ang sini-serve sa tao, doon na rin namin kinukuha. Kumain daw lahat ng mga tao plus andoon pa ‘yung local partners natin, (We also ate whatever was served to the residents. All the people ate together with our local partners),” she said.

However, Pang said their volunteers did not experience any ailment nor were hospitalized after eating the food they distributed.

The PRC has since suspended their food distribution in the province following the incident, the PRC secretary general said.

In a statement posted on its Facebook account earlier in the day, PRC said while the cause of the health emergency remains under investigation by the local government, its hot meals program in the province was suspended until the completion of the probe.

"We will wait for the results of the ongoing investigation and extend our support to the authorities as they conduct the investigation. We will remain transparent and will closely coordinate with the local government on this serious matter," it said.—Jamil Santos/AOL, GMA Integrated News