by Dayo Laniyan
Nigeria is now on red alert concerning all entries into the country, after a man from Liberia died from Ebola shortly after landing in Lagos.
The man was a 40-year-old government official in the Liberian finance ministry, who boarded a flight despite having a high fever, then vomiting during the flight. As soon as the plane landed in Lagos, the man was moved to the isolation ward, where he died shortly after.
He had recently lost his sister to the Ebola outbreak, according to health officials in Liberia.
Surveillance has been increased in “all airports, seaports and land borders” says Nigerian Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu, and authorities in Nigeria are searching and monitoring those that boarded the same plane, and those that may have come into contact with him.
This is the first confirmed Ebola case in Nigeria since the start of the outbreak in the region. Already the countries Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been hit, with 1,093 cases and 660 deaths according to statistics from the World Health Organisation.
The outbreak first begun in the four Southeastern districts of Guinea- Guekedou, Macenta, Nzerekore and Kissidougou- in February, before spreading to the capital Conkary in May.
Ibrahima Toure, Country Director of the NGO Plan Guinea said this posed a serious risk in escalating the epidemic due to the poor living conditions and lack of water. ‘People do not think to wash their hands when they don’t have enough water’, he said.
From there the outbreak spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone, the latter of which has over 400 cases and 219 deaths, overtaking the numbers of Guinea and Liberia as of 24th July.
Cases are mostly centred in the eastern districts of Kenema and Kailahun, just over the border from the Guekedou region of Guinea where the outbreak began.
Despite the danger, health organisations and aid workers have been hard pressed to treat those infected, due to the general distrust of medical staff by civilians. Last Thursday a woman tested positive for Ebola, but was forcibly removed from the hospital in the capital Freetown by family members has died shortly after turning herself in.
This has not been the only case, as dozens of people confirmed positive are currently unaccounted for in Sierra Leone. On the 25th July, demonstrations outside the main hospital treating Ebola patients in Kenema had to be broken up by police.
In Liberia, several prominent doctors who have been helping out with treating the virus have fallen victim themselves. Samuel Brisbane, a Liberian doctor has died after a three-week battle and Kent Grantly, a doctor from the US is now being treated for Ebola in the capital Monrovia. Most border crossings in Liberia have been closed and testing centres have been set up in the few entry points kept open, such as the international airport.
The Ebola virus disease (EVD) was first discovered in September 1976 by a Belgian scientist, Peter Piot, after receiving a thermos flask containing the blood of a nun from the Democratic Republic of Congo (known then as Zaire) who had fallen to the illness and later died. The disease spreads through contact with bodily fluids and the symptoms include having a high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage. There is currently no cure or vaccine, and fatality rates can reach 90%. However recovery is possible by rehydrating patients who suffer from diarrhoea and vomiting.