News / Africa

Officials Seek Contacts of Ebola Victim Who Died in Nigeria

Medical personnel inside a clinic take care of Ebola patients in the Kenema District on the outskirts of Kenema, Sierra Leone, July 27, 2014.
Medical personnel inside a clinic take care of Ebola patients in the Kenema District on the outskirts of Kenema, Sierra Leone, July 27, 2014.
VOA News

Health authorities across West Africa are trying to identify airline passengers who had contact with a man who died of Ebola.

Patrick Sawyer boarded a flight in Liberia, had a layover in Ghana, and changed planes in Togo for a flight to Lagos, Nigeria where he died Friday of the virus.

Sawyer was immediately quarantined when he arrived in Nigeria, but other passengers were allowed to leave the airport after they were told about the Ebola outbreak.

The West African airline that Sawyer flew on has suspended its operations in Monrovia, Liberia and Freetown, Sierra Leone - two cities affected by the outbreak.

Arik Airlines said Tuesday its flights to the cities would be suspended until further notice as a result of the confirmed Ebola death in Lagos, Nigeria.

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

World Health Organization [WHO] spokesman Paul Garwood said because of the close proximity of countries in the region, an effective response to the outbreak must include contact tracing and lab testing.

"We understand that in this part of the world, the borders are very, very porous, so it's quite easy for people to cross from one country into another, without detection, without using a regular border crossing," said Garwood.

Sawyer worked for Liberia's Finance Ministry and was headed to Nigeria for a conference.

Witnesses said Sawyer appeared to be ill on at least one of his flights.

But health experts say that is not necessarily enough to infect others. Contracting Ebola requires direct contact with infected bodily fluids.

WHO says Ebola has killed at least 672 people in West Africa. The majority of deaths are in Guinea.

In a report updated on Saturday, WHO said 319 people had died from Ebola in Guinea. The health organization reported 224 deaths in Sierra Leone and 129 in Liberia.

One of Liberia’s top doctors, who was treating Ebola patients, died from the disease last week. Two American doctors and a doctor from Sierra Leone have also contracted the virus, sparking fear about the safety of health workers.

There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola, which causes symptoms that include fever, vomiting, diarrhea and unstoppable bleeding.

Ebola Factbox

Outbreaks of Ebola are life-threatening and in up to 90% of cases, people die.

  • In most instances, outbreaks have occurred in remote villages of Central andWest Africa, close to tropical rainforests
  • The virus is transmitted to humans from wild animals and spreads human-to-human through exposure to organs, blood and other bodily fluids
  • Presently no specific treatment or vaccine is available for people, nor for animals

Content sourced from World Health Organization

 

On saturday, More than 10,000 people in Liberia's capital protested the opening of a new Ebola isolation unit in their community. Liberia’s Ministry of Health said the center is essential for fighting the Ebola outbreak and that Liberians need to start trusting health workers. 

But residents say they do not want a new isolation unit planned by  U.S.-based NGO Samaritan’s Purse plans to open at ELWA Hospital, on the outskirts of Monrovia.

Milane Norris lives near the ELWA hospital. He says, “I’m afraid because if the government sets up this testing center here, definitely I will be able to get this disease. So we are saying that the government shouldn’t set up the testing center in ELWA area.  We are afraid.  We don’t want to die. ”

Norris, like many Liberians, continues to believe that foreign doctors who have been responding to the outbreak and treating suspected cases are the ones responsible for its spread.

Ebola, labs worldwide, diagnostic and outbreak responseEbola, labs worldwide, diagnostic and outbreak response
x
Ebola, labs worldwide, diagnostic and outbreak response
Ebola, labs worldwide, diagnostic and outbreak response

This, despite mass education campaigns about the modes of transmission and the importance of seeking medical care.

Liberia’s Minister of Health, Walter Gwenigale, explained why many people continue to hide from “real” doctors.

“There are still people in our community who are saying that say this disease is not here, that we did this just to get money," he said. "The other reason the disease is spreading is resistance to carry out the things we are telling people not to do. Some people are fearing because they don’t want to be injected, they think that they will die, and so are afraid to come to us.”

Monrovian resident Morris Moore says traditional healers can protect him from Ebola in ways that medical science can not.

“I believe personally that the witchdoctor has a cure for this disease," he said. "I know many people would think that it is not possible, but I know they are just fooling themselves. So I will go to the witchdoctor and if I go to the witchdoctor, I will be well.  I will not contract the disease.”

But Liberian doctor Benedict Wolor warns that such ideas are foolish and should be rejected.

“This is a disease…Witchdoctors have no cure," he said. "If you see people going around saying they’ve got a vaccine or medicine that a witchdoctor thinks he can use to cure or a prayer method, they should be arrested. People should not go there. Ebola is no joke. It’s real.”

Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf closed many of the country's land borders on Sunday and has restricted public gatherings. All arriving and departing airline passengers in Liberia are now being inspected for signs of Ebola.

Jennifer Lazula in Dakar and Prince Collins in Monrovia contributed to this report.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: eusebio manuel vestias from: Portugal
July 30, 2014 11:31 AM
save the poor Nigerian health authorities Nigeria


by: chinedu from: onitsha
July 29, 2014 5:56 AM
It's sad that africans are in for added trouble with voilence, aids, hunger &bad government, hope we come out of this. also pleading for external helps.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid