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Nigeria ups ebola stakes on first death

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - 02:22

Nigerian authorities have shut and quarantined a Lagos hospital where a Liberian man died of the Ebola virus, the first recorded case of the highly-infectious disease in Africa's most populous economy. David Pollard reports

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Lagos: home to 21 million people, and the site of Nigeria's first recorded ebola death. Authorities there say they're moving fast to eliminate the possible spread of the fatal virus. And are keen to reassure its residents, according to the state commissioner for health. SOUNDBITE (English) LAGOS STATE COMMISSIONER FOR HEALTH, OLAJIDE IDRIS, SAYING: "Both the state and the federal government are up in arms to ensure that the virus does not escape and that no Nigerian is infected with this virus." The victim, a Liberian finance consultant, collapsed on arrival at Lagos airport and was then taken to the First Consultants Hospital. That's been closed. Now begins the more complex task of tracing and monitoring anyone who was in contact with him. SOUNDBITE (English) LAGOS STATE COMMISSIONER FOR HEALTH, OLAJIDE IDRIS, SAYING: "So far, a total of 59 contacts have been registered. And this consists of 44 hospital contacts, 38 were healthcare workers and six were laboratory staff and also included 15 airport contacts." Nigeria knows well the potential cost of ebola. Its neighbours in west Africa struggling to contain an outbreak that's already claimed over 600 lives. Most of the deaths have been in Sierra Leone. Medical teams there are working around the clock - while volunteers follow safe burial practices to halt the chain of transmission. But it's almost impossible to keep tabs on the disease, according to WHO worker, Jose Rovira. SOUNDBITE) (French) JOSE ROVIRA, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) LOGISTICIAN, SAYING: "It's the first time I've treated an ebola epidemic of this size. There are hundreds of deaths. We've had cases that we missed. We just can't keep track of the epidemic, it goes in all directions and we have few resources." And further away, markets are beginning to note the prospect of another major worry to add to an already list of geopolitical and other risks. James Bevan of CCLA Investment Management. SOUNDBITE (English) JAMES BEVAN, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER AT CCLA INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, SAYING: ''Global disease has been absolutely on the list of strategic thinkers ever since we had the SARS and bird flu scares, and ebola clearly is a number one nasty.'' A medical team is on its way to Togo, where the the victim's flight stopped over on its way to Lagos. Other countries that also have outbreaks include Guinea. And Liberia - which closed most borders at the weekend. As for Nigeria: its largest air carrier, Arik Air, has suspended fights to Liberia and to Sierra Leone. Officials say airports, seaports and land borders are on ''red alert''.

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Nigeria ups ebola stakes on first death

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - 02:22