Fifty-three people are now confirmed to have been affected by the Yellow Sisi waakye suspected poisoning incident at Oyibi in Greater Accra.
A joint investigation by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has revealed that the 53 people experienced symptoms of foodborne disease after consuming waakye or plain rice and tomato stew from a food vendor called Yellow Sisi located at Bush Canteen, a suburb of Oyibi.
The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) in a statement dated Jan 27, 2023 and released Friday night following the report by Graphic Online said it received notification through its Food Safety Alert System on Sunday, January 22, 2023 about the suspected foodborne disease outbreak.
It said it was reported to have occurred at Oyibi, within the Adenta Municipality, in the Greater Accra Region.
In line with the Food Safety Emergency Response Plan, a joint investigation with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) started immediately, the FDA said.
Poor food handling practices
“So far one (1) person has been reported dead, but the exact cause of death is yet to be confirmed,” it added.
“Environmental assessment of the food preparation site located at Malejor and the three vending sites at Bush Canteen, Prison Joint and Sharp Curve Joint revealed poor food handling practices which could have resulted in the contamination of the food, leading to the foodborne disease outbreak.
Yellow Sisi operations suspended
The FDA said it has suspended the operations of Yellow Sisi until measures have been instituted to ensure that their activities are brought into compliance to prevent future occurrence.
Graphic Online’s Mary Anane Amponsah reported that the victims including the waakye seller, popularly known as Yellow Sisi, and some of her family members were rushed to the Valley View Hospital, Oyibi Hospital, Dodowa Hospital and other facilities when they complained of severe stomach ache after they had eaten the food last week Friday (Jan 20, 2023).
Graphic gathered that a pregnant woman and a lotto vendor died.
The Yellow Sisi Waakye joint is considered to be one of the popular food joints at Oyibi Bush Canteen.
When the Daily Graphic team visited the area on Thursday, it was observed that the joint was quiet and the kiosk locked.
Some shops close to the food joint were also closed as it is believed that the shop owners who also patronised the food that day and suffered the side effects, were also said to be receiving treatment in hospital.
When the Daily Graphic followed up at the Valley View Hospital for confirmation, hospital officials did confirm the incident, indicating that a number of patients were rushed to the hospital in bad condition but “as of today, all the patients have been discharged,” an official said.
The Valley View Hospital officials could not provide enough information as to the number of people who might have been affected but only indicated that the data from the hospital had been forwarded to the Kpone Katamanso District Hospital where further investigation was ongoing to ascertain the cause of the problem.
Officials at the district hospital confirmed the story but said they were conducting further tests on patients to find out whether it was indeed a case of food poisoning or something else.
“As at now, some other people are still visiting the hospital and, therefore, until all the necessary laboratory tests are complete, we cannot give specific data on the number of people who have been affected or whether it was indeed a case of food poisoning,” Dr Esther Danquah from the district hospital told Graphic Online’s Mary Anane Amponsah.
One of the victims who gave his name as Justice Ankomah said he started experiencing stomach ache and then diarrhoea later in the day, but did not consider it as a “big deal” and took some medication to treat himself.
However, he pointed out that three other residents who operated shops around the joint and also patronised the waakye, as they often did, fell very sick and ended up being admitted to the hospital and had not been able to return to open their shops for business since last Friday.
The wife of one of the deceased that the Daily Graphic met and who only gave her husband’s name as Kennedy, disclosed that her husband died last Monday at the St John’s Hospital at Amrahia, when he was rushed there after complaining of stomach ache and diarrhoea.
“He started complaining that Friday that he was not feeling well, but we thought it was a normal thing. It was later when it became severe that we rushed him to the hospital but he did not survive,” the widow disclosed.
She said later on they heard the news that many other people had been affected and were at different hospitals within the community.
Some relatives of Kennedy were spotted at the Oyibi Police Station following up on the issue.
They, however, refused to talk to the Daily Graphic about the incident as they said the police were investigating.
At the Oyibi Police Station, although there was confirmation that a case of food poisoning had been reported there, the police declined to brief the Daily Graphic team but rather, directed the them to seek further information from the police headquarters.