KARACHI: The Sindh health authorities hinted on Saturday that they could not “exclude measles virus as a risk factor of outbreak” that killed several people including children, over the past few days after inhaling toxic gases emitting from nearby factories in Ali Mohammad Goth of Keamari district, but remained cautious to jumping to conclusions before “confirmation of blood sample” reports.

In a fresh report sharing initial findings of the investigation into the incident, the authorities mentioned the objective of the exercise as to identify cases, determine magnitude, find out associated risk factors of the cases and deaths and its source.

“Some 40 people or 81 per cent of the infected people were in the age group of less than 11 years,” the report said.

“All were unvaccinated against routine [immunisations] and measles. During active search in the community team observed cases of suspected measles. Some chance of infected person cannot be excluded due to incubation period. So on the basis of above-findings we cannot exclude the measles virus as a risk factor of outbreak until the confirmation of blood samples,” the report stated.

It referred to the observations of the health department team, which noticed/ observed “a very foul smell in the affected area during the visit on dated Jan 26, 2023”.

District administration locates graves of 17 persons who died during 15 days

All infected cases and deaths were living, it said, in the surrounding area of the factory at approximate distance of 10-20 feet, which identified using rubber, plastic, stone, powder and oil.

“According to residents of the affected area a sudden surge of shortness of breath cases surfaced after the start of the factory from Jan, 5 2023,” it said.

“Some 26 [affected] people or 53 per cent cases are living in six families. After the closing of factories on Jan 26, 2023 team and residents observed an absence of foul smell in the infected area during a visit on Jan 27, 2023. So on the basis of above-findings, more cases and deaths were reported where factories are present,” the report said.

Meanwhile, the district administration with the assistance of staff in area graveyard identified the graves of some 17 victims.

Ramzan, the gravedigger, confirmed that 17 bodies had been buried over the past two weeks. Of 17 bodies, seven were of females while the other 10 of males. Some 15 of the deceased were minors while two women were 28 and 35 years of age, officials said.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2023

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