Boy who died after falling ill on school trip cremated

School says 15-year-old had taken medicine that he brought; cause of death still unknown.

SINGAPORE - When 15-year-old Catholic High School student Luke Chan felt unwell and vomited last Thursday morning during a school trip in Shanghai, a teacher contacted his mother and they decided to let him take the medicine he had brought, the school said yesterday.

"The teacher had a discussion with (Luke's mother) on Luke's condition and he was given the medicine he had brought along on the trip, and kept hydrated," said a school spokesman, when asked why Luke was not taken to a doctor.

The boy stayed in the hotel room to rest that day and was well enough to return to Singapore the following day with his schoolmates when the trip ended, the Ministry of Education said.

Luke died last Saturday night, a day after returning to Singapore after spending two weeks away. The Straits Times earlier reported that he had vomited again and had diarrhoea after returning to Singapore.

He fainted last Saturday night and could not be revived when he was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. The cause of death is still unknown and he was cremated yesterday.

Two teachers and 18 schoolmates went on the trip with him. They visited Suzhou and Shanghai, going to museums and cultural centres and attending talks by entrepreneurs.

When asked if the school would send all the other students and staff on the trip to a medical check-up, the spokesman said: "The other students and teachers were generally well during the trip and have not reported otherwise since their return to Singapore."

Catholic High student Ryan Yap, 15, told The Straits Times yesterday that Luke was "always cheerful".

"I've never caught him in a bad mood," said Ryan, who had also attended the same kindergarten as Luke. "He was really sincere in whatever he did and he did things to the best of his abilities."

Luke was in the pioneer batch of Catholic High's Integrated Programme, where students go straight to junior college without taking their O levels.

He was active in his co-curricular activity, the Chinese drama club, and was the class chairman.

General practitioner Yik Keng Yeong, 59, said Luke's symptoms are similar to those caused by gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and the intestines.

"In Singapore, gastroenteritis is usually caused by bacterial food poisoning or gastric flu," said Dr Yik, who has been practising for 35 years.

"But you have to be more alert and careful when the person has been overseas recently, because it could be chemical poisoning."

He said people suffering from excessive diarrhoea and vomiting could collapse as a result of dehydration or septic shock from the infection of the stomach and intestines.

This article was first published on Nov 10, 2015.
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