Claims of a cover-up as legionnaires’ outbreak declared over

THE legionnaires’ outbreak that claimed three lives and left dozens more seriously ill has been announced as being over.

Health bosses made the declaration because no new cases had emerged outwith a 14-day incubation period, although they said people who had been ill but not diagnosed were still expected to come forward.

Victims of the deadly bug and their relatives today attacked the announcement and branded it a cover-up.

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An investigation to establish the source of the outbreak – which started in early May – is ongoing.

Gordon Erasmuson, 59, a retired carpenter from 
Westfield Street in Gorgie, who first became ill at the end of May, said: “I do not believe this, not a word of it. I think they are trying to cover up their own incompetence. They are trying to shield themselves from losses from people suing.

“What would convince me would be if they got an independent agency to come and inspect the towers – or got rid of the towers and put brand new ones in.

“And they need to be testing the towers weekly as it only takes a few days for this bug to get into the atmosphere.”

James Bennett, 62, brother-in-law of Anne Bennett, 60, who was placed in a medically induced coma after catching legionella and suffering multiple organ failure, said: “I do not believe it because we have not heard a thing about where this has even come from – the source of this has got to come out.

“I think they’re playing it down until something else 

The first case of legionnaires’ was identified in the Capital at the end of May. The outbreak claimed its first life on June 5 when Bert Air, 56, died. A second man died ten days later, before another man died earlier this month. In total, 101 cases were confirmed or suspected.

Lord Provost Donald Wilson, also a Labour group member for Sighthill and Gorgie, said: “We thought that it was over many times and then you heard of another case. We will be more reassured as time goes on and no new cases are reported.”

Health chiefs said the initial response had now been proved a success.

Dr Alison McCallum, director of public health and health policy at NHS Lothian, said: “All the evidence gathered during the course of the outbreak suggests that the action taken in the first few days was effective.

“That combined with the fact that all of the cases identified have fallen within the expected incubation period mean that we can declare the outbreak over.”