Awareness drive intensified after Soweto poisoning incident

The Gauteng Health Department's Outbreak Response team has committed to intensify its awareness drive following a food poisoning incident in Soweto.

This comes after Neo Khang and Katlego Mbatha, both six years old, lost their lives after they ate biscuits and juice bought from a local shop on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a three-year-old boy is recovering well from home, while two are currently admitted at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.

“A four-year-old male who is recovering well and is due for discharge and a six-year-old girl who remains critical but stable in ICU.”

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the response team visited the affected families to provide support and counselling and to conduct further investigations.

They also spent time at Naledi and surrounding areas engaging locals and conducting health education about food handling, preparation, storage and food safety.

They also shared the importance of checking food expiry labels, and hand washing before handling food and sensitising them on what to do when presenting with food poisoning symptoms.

These include cramping, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea.

“The health education also covered spaza shops in the area and includes checking compliance in terms of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act and food labelling regulations.”

Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko has since passed her condolences to the families that have lost their children and wished a speedy recovery to those who are still receiving medical care.

“The tragic incident is another painful reminder that we must do more to ensure greater public awareness and increase the level of alertness when it comes to the foodstuffs communities are exposed to,” she said.

The department is urging the public to visit their nearest health facilities when they present with symptoms such as vomiting, sudden chest pains, body aches, fever or foam in the mouth.

The outbreak response team comprised of health inspectors from the municipality and the province, Ward-Based Outreach Teams, Communicable Disease Control specialists, Surveillance Officers, Infection Control and Health Promoters will continue to conduct awareness campaigns in Naledi and surrounding areas on Thursday and Friday.

“The police have since taken samples for further processing. The source of the food poisoning is not confirmed subject to the police investigation.”

Source: South African Government News Agency