Maria Ramos, the director-general of public health, explaining the hepatitis A outbreak.

26-01-2018Miquel À. Cañellas

Maria Ramos, the director-general of public health, explained yesterday that there have been 38 cases of hepatitis A and that the focus for the outbreak - a restaurant in the centre of Palma - is "controlled but still being investigated". She didn't exclude the possibility of there being more cases.

The head of the epidemiology service, Antoni Nicolau, said that the investigation will take some time to be completed. The outbreak cannot be considered to be closed until two incubation cycles have passed since the last case that occurred in early January.

The restaurant faces sanctions because of "deficiencies". Ramos added that the restaurant is cooperating fully and that until it was advised by the government, it hadn't known about the outbreak.

Ramos insisted that inspectors and technical staff had acted correctly on information in mid-December, when the first case was detected. It only became apparent that the restaurant might have been at the centre of the outbreak when a doctor reported that two infected patients had eaten at the same establishment. The first person affected was a worker at the restaurant. There were then 25 further cases over Christmas. Food safety inspectors gave the restaurant a deadline to take remedial action, including the destruction of all food and total disinfection of the premises. It was closed between 10 and 19 January.

Ramos noted that there have been no health complications among those who contracted hepatitis, although some have needed to enter hospital for short periods. She provided figures for cases of hepatitis A. In 2016, the last year for which information is available, there were nine cases. In 2015, the figure was eleven; in 2014, 13; 2013, six; 2012, twelve. The last time there was a similar number to now was in 2011, when there were 49 cases.


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