Angola blames fainting wave in schools on ‘hysteria’

Thursday August 4 2011

By ARNALDO VIEIRA, NATION Correspondent, Luanda

A commission set up by the Angolan government to probe mass fainting in schools in the country has denied that toxic gas was responsible and instead blamed “mass hysteria” for the phenomenon.

More than 500 pupils have allegedly fainted in seven provinces, including the capital Luanda since April, allegedly due to intoxication with an unidentified gas.

The fainting wave has affected mainly females and speculation had earlier centered on criminals supposedly sighted launching toxic gas in the institutions.

But on Wednesday the deputy commander of the National Police, Paulo de Almeida, dismissed the existence of such a gas.

“Tests do not confirm any toxic substance causing the fainting registered in several schools in the country,” he said at a news conference.

“The tests were done and the results are negative,” he said, adding that the samples had also been sent to foreign laboratories.

However, he admitted that some gangs were seeking to capitalise on the public’s panic and confirmed the force had made some arrests.

Another member for the commission, Luanda psychiatric hospital director Dr Rui Pires, said that no syndrome of any sort had been confirmed and alluded to “psychological” problems instead.

Dr Adelaide de Carvalho the national director of public health, said all the teenagers had not spent more than five days in hospital, and some of them were asthmatic.