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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs