Nigeria isolates hospital in Lagos as Obama briefed on Ebola outbreak

LAGOS Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:28pm EDT

(From L to R) Abdulsalami Nasidi, director of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Lagos state health commissioner Jide Idris and Lagos Special Advisor on Health Yewande Adesina, speak about the update on the Ebola outbreak during a news conference in Lagos July 28, 2014. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

(From L to R) Abdulsalami Nasidi, director of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Lagos state health commissioner Jide Idris and Lagos Special Advisor on Health Yewande Adesina, speak about the update on the Ebola outbreak during a news conference in Lagos July 28, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye

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LAGOS (Reuters) - The Nigerian city of Lagos shut and quarantined a hospital on Monday where a Liberian man died of the Ebola virus, the first recorded case of the highly-infectious disease in Africa's most populous country.

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 bleeding.

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.


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.


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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Comments (3)
RomneyRyan wrote:
If Obama cared about contagious disease, he would have closed the borders by now. If he cared about the safety, health and security of the legal citizens of America he would have closed the boarders by now. He has the power. He is the President. I am sure Congress would have agreed to close the borders because, that was in the oath when he took office, to care for the citizens of our country.
He is very irresponsible and secret about the surge of illegals coming in. It may backfire though if he and everyone in America die of every kind of dirty disease coming from over the border. He doesn’t care.

Jul 29, 2014 7:09am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Art16 wrote:
If Ebola breaks out of Africa, and lands in the US, I have no confidence that Junior High Obama and his NIH and CDC will be of any help to the US, given the demonstrated ineptitude of any of them of late. Ebola is a vicious and unforgiving virus that could assume plague status with awful and deadly consequences.

Jul 29, 2014 7:25am EDT  --  Report as abuse
md444444444 wrote:
Many months ago, long before the Ebola outbreak, I read a conspiracy “theory” that the men who want to depopulate Earth were working on the Ebola virus. Now a new strain comes out, different than before, not in a rural area like the rest, but in a highly populated area. Is this what we get with men in charge…murder as the ‘solution’ to every problem? Women would choose humanitarian solutions that would benefit all. Elect women, elect women, elect women.

Jul 29, 2014 7:51am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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