19 Apr 2005

Five babies die in top Fiji hospital

10:22 am on 19 April 2005

Five newborn babies are reported to have died after breathing air from infected ventilators at Fiji's largest hospital.

The Fiji Sun reports that health authorities at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva have confirmed the deaths.

The chief executive of the health ministry, Dr Lepani Waqatakirewa, is quoted as saying the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the hospital has been closed for the last two weeks after contaminated ventilators were identified as the cause of infant death.

Dr Waqatakirewa said decontamination of ventilator machines is under way but couldn't say how long it would take.

An unnamed private practitioner is quoted as saying the latest death happened last Saturday.

He's advised his patients to deliver their babies at hospitals in the western division or overseas.

The report says two viruses have been identified as causes of the contamination.