Monday, April 13, 2009

Indian rojak mass poisoning timeline...

Well, some light is starting to be shed on the sequence of events related to the Indian Rojak Mass Poisoning incident.

What I have pieced together thus far is as follows......

Poisoning began about Thursday. Symptoms appeared Thursday evening and patients start to appear at GP clinics and CGH in the evening. MOH was informed and investigations begin. Stall was shut down on Saturday morning.

I think MOH/NEA did as well as they could....The question is...'Was it enough?'

What troubles me is that in the sequence of events, there was almost 48 hours between first exposure to the poisoning and eventual shut down and isolation of the stall. There was actually one full day (Friday) of unnecessary exposure allowed after the poisoning was first recognized before the stall was shut down. It is 'fortunate' that this was just a food poisoning (albeit affecting 154 people and causing 2 deaths). Perhaps not so fortunate for at least the one lady who died because she was poisoned on Friday.

I am not an expert of the management of mass poisonings or bio-terrorism, but it seems to my little mole brain, that there might have been too long a lag between the start of the poisoning and definitive action taken to isolate and contain the poison. It was a good thing it wasn't a very infectious incident. If it had been an actual bio-terrorist event, I wonder if this amount of time delay would actually be considered acceptable.

I think MOH/NEA need to go back and relook their proceures and timelines. All those exercises and drills for events like this might not be very indicative of our national preparedness, when we take so long to respond to a real mass poisoning situation like this.

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