Liberian Ebola victim had direct contact with 59 people, Lagos govt. says

An Ebola patient being attended to
An Ebola patient being attended to

Preliminary test results confirm Liberian died of Ebola.

The Lagos State Commissioner of Health, Jide Idris, on Monday said that at least 59 people came in direct contact with Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian confirmed to have died of the Ebola virus.

Mr. Idris said this at a joint press conference of the Federal Ministry of Health and the Lagos State government on Monday.

The persons include 44 contacts at the hospital he was taken to, 38 of which were health workers and six laboratory staff; 15 contacts at the airport, comprising three Ecowas officials – a driver, a liaison officer and a protocol officer. Others include two nursing staff, five airport handlers and the Nigerian ambassador to Liberia.

The commissioner said 20 percent of those that came in contact with the deceased had been physically screened.

“The private hospital (First Consultant medical Centre) was demobilised and primary source of infection eliminated. The patient has been cremated and the ash will be transferred to the Liberian government whenever the need arises. Decontamination process in all affected areas has commenced.”

Speaking of the measures taken by the state and federal state authorities to combat an outbreak of the disease, Mr. Idris explained that an incident command centre to coordinate the rapid respond team on the field had been established.

He said five working groups were also formed namely: Contact Tracing Surveillance and Laboratory, Health Education and Social Mobilisation Case Management and Infection Prevention and Control, Logistics and Data Management.

He also said an isolation ward has been created at the Infectious Disease Centre, Yaba, and that plans were being made to open three more isolation centres.

Explaining that there are no cures or vaccines for the virus, the Special Adviser on Health to the Lagos State governor, Yewande Adesina, warned faith healers not to attempt to treat patients with symptoms of the virus but to promptly report cases to the health authorities for their own safety and that of those around them.

Ms. Adesina also warned family members to desist from taken anyone with the symptoms of the disease to hospital on their own. She said people should call the emergency number provided so that trained health officials will be dispatched to carry the patient to one of the designated isolation centres.

The health experts warned against eating apes and fruit bats, which are natural carriers of the virus.

The President of Nigerian Academy of Science, Oyewale Tomori, who is a Veterinarian Virologist, debunked the rumour that pigs are the carriers of the disease and said as long as people maintain proper hygiene, there was no need to panic.

More confirmation

A few day after the Nigerian Minister of Health,Onyebuchi Chukwu, confirmed that Mr. Sawyer indeed died of the ebola virus, the Lagos State Government has corroborated this, saying Mr. Sawyer was actually a carrier of the virus.

The Lagos State Commissioner of Health, Mr. Idris said preliminary laboratory tests conducted at the virological laboratory of the Lagos State university Teaching Hospital and the results from the Lagos State and the World Bank Funded African centre for Genomics of Infectious Diseases of the Redeemer University detected Viral DNA in both Blood and urine samples obtained from the patient and both were positive for the Ebola Virus.

A third test at the World Health Organisation, WHO, laboratory in Dakar Senegal could not be conducted because the courier company refused to accept the blood sample. However, WHO has accepted the result from its sponsored laboratory at the Redeemer University.

Mr. Sawyer, who was a senior ECOWAS employee in Liberia, had come to Nigeria to attend an ECOWAS conference in Calabar. The plane he was travelling in made brief stops in Accra and Lome and he switched planes in Lome before heading to Lagos.

“He was reported to have fallen ill on board and remained ill on arrival in Lagos. He was assisted by various airport and ECOWAS protocol staff and was driven directly to a private hospital in Obalende. Initial diagnosis of the suspected viral heammorrhydic fever was made. He was admitted and investigation and supporting treatment commenced,” Mr. Idris said.


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