A top official at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Yaba, Lagos, has said that one of the people who helped the 40-year-old Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, on the Monrovia-Lome and Lome-Lagos flight may have been infected with the virus.
The reliable source, who is also on the team of experts monitoring the testing and surveillance of persons who have had contact with the late Liberian victim in Lagos, told our correspondent on Wednesday, that although they had yet to confirm, the person was showing feverish symptoms similar to that of Ebola virus.
He said, “We are still investigating and monitoring those who had first contact with Sawyer. One of the people who helped him off the plane is showing signs of fever, a symptom of Ebola. We have isolated them and we are carrying out various tests to establish if it is Ebola or not.”
However, when contacted the Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina, denied that none of the people that had been isolated at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba, was sick.
Adeshina said, “No one is sick. We are doing a routine surveillance at the centre now and I can tell you that no one is sick or showing symptoms. We are just monitoring them because we are going by the World Health Organisation’s guidelines of prevention, treatment and management.”
The Lagos State Government had on Monday said 59 people in the state came in contact with the 40-year-old Liberian who died of Ebola virus in the state on July 25.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, said this figure consisted of 44 healthcare workers and 15 others at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.
They include 44 hospital contacts (38 healthcare workers and six laboratory staff) and 15 airport contacts.
The 15 airport contacts comprise three ECOWAS staff-driver, Liaison, and Protocol Officer, Nigerian Ambassador to Monrovia, two nursing staff and five airport passenger handlers.
Sawyer, arrived in Lagos via Lome on Asky Airline Flight KP50.
He was said to be on his way to Calabar, the Cross River State capital for the 8th ECOWAS Retreat of Heads of Offices as a senior ECOWAS official in Liberia.
The deceased was also reported to have been very ill on arrival at the airport in Lagos and was assisted by some airport and ECOWAS protocol staff to a private hospital in Obalende .
It was said that when he showed the symptom of Ebola virus, the hospital notified the state Ministry of Health which also notified the Federal Ministry of Health.
The patient was said to have died at about 6.50am on July 25.
The state Ministry of Health in collaboration with the National Centre for Disease Control of the Federal Ministry of Health, and WHO have established an isolation centre for persons believed to have had contact with Sawyer while entering the country.
The private health facility where Sawyer was admitted had been decontaminated to eliminate any possible infections, according to health officials.
Meanwhile, veterinary virologist, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, has warned Nigerians against unsupervised burial of persons who died of Ebola.
He said 40 per cent of cases in high risk countries were transmitted from victims` bodies, stressing that an Ebola corpse was deadlier than the patient.