Patrick Sawyer, a consultant for Liberia's Finance Ministry in his
40s, collapsed on arrival at the Lagos airport on July 20. He was
put in isolation at the First Consultants Hospital in Obalende, one
of the most crowded parts of a city that is home to 21 million
people. He died on Friday.
"The private hospital was demobilized (evacuated) and the primary
source of infection eliminated. The decontamination process in all
the affected areas has commenced," Lagos state health commissioner
Jide Idris told a news conference. He said the hospital would be
closed for a week and the staff would be closely monitored.
Ebola has killed 672 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone
since it was first diagnosed in February. The fatality rate of the
current outbreak is around 60 percent although the disease can kill
up to 90 percent of those who catch it. Highly contagious, its
symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and internal and external
In Sierra Leone, which has the highest number of Ebola cases in the
current outbreak at 525, President Ernest Bai Koroma visited an
Ebola center in the northeastern district of Kenema.
An administration official said President Barack Obama was receiving
updates, and noted that U.S. agencies had stepped up assistance to
help contain the virus.
Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser, said in a televised
interview on Monday the outbreak was of "grave concern."
"We are very much present and active in trying to help the countries
of the region and the international authorities like the World
Health Organization address and contain this threat. But it is
indeed a very worrying epidemic," Rice told MSNBC.
HOSPITAL STAFF, OTHERS MONITORED
Authorities were monitoring 59 people who were in contact with
Sawyer, including airport contacts, the Lagos state health ministry
said, but it said the airline had yet to provide a passenger list
for the flights Sawyer used.
Derek Gatherer, a virologist at Britain's University of Lancaster,
said anyone on the plane near Sawyer could be in "pretty serious
danger," but that Nigeria was better placed to tackle the outbreak
than its neighbors.
"Nigerians have deep pockets and they can do as much as any Western
country could do if they have the motivation and organization to get
it done," he said.
Nigeria's largest air carrier Arik Air has suspended flights to
Liberia and Sierra Leone because of the Ebola risk, Arik spokesman
Ola Adebanji said in an email on Monday.
[to top of second column]
David Heymann, head of the Centre on Global Health Security at
London's Chatham House, said every person who had been on the plane
to Lagos with Sawyer would need to be traced and told to monitor
their temperature twice a day for 21 days.
The World Health Organization said in a statement that Sawyer's
flight had stopped in Lomé, Togo, on its way to Lagos.
"WHO is sending teams to both Nigeria and Togo to do follow- up work
in relation to contact tracing, in particular to contacts he may
have had on board the flight," spokesman Paul Garwood said.
Liberia closed most of its border crossings and introduced stringent
health measures on Sunday, a day after a 33-year-old American doctor
working there for the relief organization Samaritan's Purse tested
positive for Ebola.
Nigeria's airports, seaports and land borders have been on "red
alert" since Friday over the disease.
Exacerbating the difficulty of containing the virus, Nigerian
doctors are on strike over conditions and pay.
The WHO said that in the past week, its regional director for
Africa, Luis Sambo, had been on a fact-finding mission to Guinea,
Liberia and Sierra Leone, which have 1,201 confirmed, suspected and
probable cases among them.
"He observed that the outbreak is beyond each national health sector
alone and urged the governments of the affected countries to
mobilize and involve all sectors, including civil society and
communities, in the response," the WHO said.
(Reporting by Tim Cocks, additional reporting by Oludare Mayowa in
Lagos, Tom Miles in Geneva, Kate Kelland in London, Roberta Rampton
in Washington, and Umaru Fofana in Freetown; writing by Toni
Reinhold, editing by G Crosse)
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