Sixty-four students at Thma Koul High School in Battambang province passed out over the weekend due to nutrition deficiency – among other reasons – Thma Koul district referral hospital director Kong Pak told The Post on Sunday.
Pak said blood test results indicated that some students displayed a calcium and sugar deficiency, while others suffered from chronic stomach ache.
“Calcium and sugar deficiency made them weak, fatigued, dizzy, vulnerable to panic attacks and breathing difficulties,” he said.
As of Sunday, four of the victims were hospitalised, while the remaining sixty had been sent home after receiving outpatient care.
District governor Kim Vannak, who led a joint committee that investigated the case, said his team had concluded the causes of the mass fainting.
“The majority of them did not eat food regularly. On top of that, packed classrooms, hot weather, long-hour studies and panic attacks due to watching their classmates fainting also triggered the mass fainting,” he said.
School principal Hing Chan Tharith acknowledged that all 25 classrooms at the school are over capacity, with each filled with up to 75 students.
“By the ministry’s policy, a classroom can accommodate a maximum of 45 pupils, but if we follow the policy, where do the rest of our students go?” he said, adding that the school has more than 2,000 students.
Tharith called on the provincial education department, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and other relevant institutions, including the private sector, to construct three additional buildings with 15 classrooms in order to improve conditions for students at the school.
Sum Socheath, one of the teachers at the school, said the mass fainting began on Friday morning when an eleventh-grade student passed out after suffering dizziness and breathing difficulties, followed by another one from Grade 12.
On the same day, 17 other students passed out one after another. Teachers called on police and doctors to take students to the hospital.
“The principal decided to let other students go home earlier to ease the situation,” he said.