LAGOS, July 28 (Reuters) - The Nigerian city of Lagos on Monday shut down and quarantined a hospital where a man died of Ebola in the first recorded case of the highly infectious disease in Africa’s most populous country.
Patrick Sawyer, a consultant for the Liberian finance ministry in his 40s, collapsed on arrival at Lagos airport on July 20 and 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.
“We have shut the hospital to enable us to properly quarantine the environment. Some of the hospital staff who were in close contact with the victim have been isolated,” Lagos state health commissioner Jide Idris told Nigerian TV.
The hospital will be shut for a week and all staff monitored to ensure the virus has not spread, he added.
Ebola has killed 672 people across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since it was first diagnosed in February.
It can kill up to 90 percent of those who catch it, although the fatality rate of the current outbreak is around 60 percent. Highly contagious, especially in the late stages, symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea and internal and external bleeding.
Adding to the risks, Nigerian doctors are on strike over conditions and pay. Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association Tope Ojo was quoted in local media on Saturday as saying the strike would not be called off despite the Ebola threat.
Nigeria’s airports, seaports and land borders have been on “red alert” since Friday.
Liberia closed most of its border crossings on Sunday and introduced stringent health measures.
The World Health Organization said in a statement that Sawyer’s flight stopped in Lome in 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,” WHO spokesman Paul Garwood said.
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 between 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 statement said.
A relative surge in cases in Guinea after weeks of low viral activity showed that “undetected chains of transmission existed in the community”, the WHO said, calling for containment measures and contact tracing to be stepped up in Guinea. (Reporting by Tim Cocks and Oludare Mayowa in Lagos, additional reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)