By Noel B. Najarro
BUTUAN CITY , July 11 (PNA) –The Caraga Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRC) declared Saturday a “food poisoning outbreak” in Caraga region as a total of 1,206 elementary and high school students were either hospitalized or being treated in their homes, after eating durian and magosteen flavored candies Friday.
The victims suffered stomach ache, vomiting and dizziness after eating durian and magosteen flavored candy sold to them in the streets at a cheap price. Most of the students bought candies at around 10 a.m., which was recess time for most schools.
The food poisoning outbreak prompted the RDRRMC to hold an emergency meeting at OCD Caraga Regional Office on T. Calo Ext., this city at 8 a.m Saturday.
During a press conference following the emergency meeting, RDRRMC Chairperson Liza Mazo said that the number of victims of the food poisoning outbreak in Caraga as reported to their office at 6:00 a.m. Saturday, had risen to 1,206 mostly elementary and high school students.
Of this number, 347 had been discharged from the health facilities of their confinement, 112 remained confined and 747 were out patients.
The cases came from the municipalities of Marihatag, Lianga, Madrid and Cagwait, all in Surigao del Sur.
Police Supt. Martin M. Gamba, PRO 13 spokesman said that the police were still verifying reports that there were also fruit-flavored candy-poisoning victims from Bayugan City in Agusan del Sur and Tubod, in Surigao del Norte.
The affected schools included Tandag Pilot Elementary School, Telaje Elementary School and Jacinto Elpa National High School (in Tandag City); Gamut National High School and Sumosumo Elementary School (in Tago, Surigao del Sur); Hinatuan High School (in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur); Cagwait Elementary School, San Vicente National High School, Unida National High School and East Surigao del Sur University (in Cagwait, Surigao del Sur);
Madrid National High School and St. Michael School (in Madrid, Surigao del Sur); Cantilan National High School, East Central Elementary School and Hotchkiss Elementary School (in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur); Timamana Elementary School and Timamana National High School(in Tubod, Surigao del Norte) and the reported two other schools in Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur, according to Gamba.
There was no reported fatality relative to the incident so far, Gamba said.
Gamba also said that three suspects were apprehended at Cagwait, and five in Tandag, City believed to be responsible in the selling and or distribution of the durian candies.
A safehouse where the suspects conducted the repacking of the questionable candy products were raided by the authorities in Tandag City, he said.
A vehicle Mitsubishi L-3 (MEM 366) allegedly used by the suspects in transporting their products is now under police custody.
Police is now preparing the charges of Physical Injury in Relation to R.A. 10611, otherwise known as Food Safety Act of 2013 and Physical Injury in Relation to R.A. 7610 against the apprehended suspects.
Samples of the confiscated candies are now sent to the Bureau of Foods and Drugs (BFAD) for examination and analysis.
The council reiterated its warning to the public to refrain from buying or distributing items similar to the products in question especially those which were homemade and to immediately seek immediate medical consultation to the nearest health facility if symptoms manifest such as abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea. (PNA)