Chief Medical Officer Says BHS safe for humans but Principal says people still getting sick

While Morton is expressing concerns about the safety of her students and teachers, the Chief Medical Officer, CMO, Dr. Patrick Martin, has declared that as far as he is aware, the entire school is fit for humans. He also reminded that a number of scientific studies have been carried by local and overseas experts and that though problems were identified, corrective measures were taken by the Public Works Department and other agencies of the government.

Morton has however been at pains to emphatically state that people are still getting sick and complaining of various ailments, quite similar to those that made the rounds in 2012 and 2013. She called on all parties to work together and to remove all contention, and accept the reality that her staff and students are still getting sick, never mind the studies carried out and the announcements that all is well.

Though some teachers, parents and students have spoken out, the Chief Medical Officer has indicated that the Ministry of Health has to date not received any medical report from any medical doctor, revealing any health hazards and impact on students and staff.

However, Dr. Thelma Phillip Browne who is a Dermatologist who examined a number of affected patients has written to Government, through the Permanent Secretary. In her letter she confirmed that the patients she examined were experiencing some health problems, some consistent with what the principal has spoken of.

Dr. Martin has accepted however that though mould and dust may be present at the school they are also everywhere in nature.

A Government release quoted Martin as saying, “Ordinarily, persons who have normal immune systems are not affected. Persons whose immune systems are weakened (by prolonged steroid use, HIV, cancer and metabolic diseases) are at higher risk for becoming affected.” Dr. Martin further stated that additionally, persons who have allergies may have mild, moderate or severe irritant-related reactions upon contact with excessive levels of mould spores and dust.

“Symptoms include asthma; itching and tearing of the eyes; itching and congestion of the nostrils; itching of the skin; and itching of the roof of the mouth and rashes,” the Chief Medical Officer added.

He noted that St. Kitts and Nevis is a tropical country and as such, the air is always warm and humid.

“Mould colonies always accumulate in indoor spaces that are damp, dark and warm. Mould can be seen on shower curtains, the grout of bathroom tiles and on food left in the open for days to weeks. Mould can also be found in air-condition systems and on furry objects such as teddy bears, carpets and fabric-covered furniture. Dust accumulates in indoor spaces and on objects that are not regularly cleaned,” he said.

Despite these explanations, the complaints continue and the frustration of the faculty remains.


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