UCC closes down food market as student dies from suspected food poisoning

Authorities of the University of Cape Coast have closed the science market and the main market where many students buy food.

The measure is to enable operators of the market to undergo health screening to ascertain their health status before plying their trade.

The decision followed the death of a Level 200 student of the university of what was suspected to be food poisoning, three days after reporting to campus.

Mr Sylvester Acheampong, a Bachelor of Science (Statistics) student, who hails from Assin Akunfuah, died last Wednesday, a day after he had been rushed to the UCC Hospital.

Mr Acheampong had fallen unconscious at the time he was rushed to the hospital.

Market operators
According to some of the market operators, they had been informed about the closure of the market last Thursday and given up to 11:30 a.m. on Friday to quit.

Around 11:44 a.m., security personnel of the university moved in to enforce the measure, as they went round locking up the shops and food joints in the market.

Some of the traders said the exercise was in the right direction because it would help safeguard the health of everyone, except that they were concerned about the short notice given them.

According to the Senior Assistant Registrar in charge of Public Relations and Protocol, Major Kofi Baah-Bentum (retd), the health screening was a normal exercise undertaken by the university every year to ensure safety of all.

He said friends of Acheampong had found him unconscious in his private hostel and rushed him to the hospital but he did not survive, as medical staff made frantic efforts to revive him.

‘We commiserate with the bereaved family and assure them of our support,’ he said.

Waakye suspicion
Some students are, however, linking Acheampong’s death to ‘waakye’ bought from a food vendor on campus.

Many of them were said to have complained of stomach complications after eating ‘waakye’ and had been rushed to hospital.

One female student told the Daily Graphic that she was hospitalised one whole day after eating the food.

However, Major Baah-Bentum said there was no scientific proof that linked the stomach complications suffered by the students solely to the waakye the students ate on campus, adding that some had suggested the cause to be water and insanitary conditions.

He said in the case of Acheampong, it was possible that he contracted the disease before reporting to school.

He said his understanding from the medical director was that the incubation period of cholera was at least five days, but with respect to food poisoning, the effect could be immediate.

Major Baah-Bentum said the cholera cases at the hospital were not peculiar to the university community and that there were a high number of cholera cases within the catchment area of the hospital.

He said the university had been undertaking education programmes to create awareness of cholera and other health issues, and advised students to be mindful of where they bought and ate their food.

Students’ reaction
Some students reacted differently to the closure of the market and the cholera scare in respect of their feeding.

Some of them expressed concern that the closure of the market would seriously affect them because it was their main food joint.

Others, however, did not have any problem with the closure or the cholera scare because they prepared their own food. 

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