Wednesday, August 13, 2014 6:11 pm
A Nigerian nurse who had close contact with the Liberian Ebola patient skipped quarantine in Lagos and went to her home in the eastern city of Enugu, where she made contact with 20 other people, the government said on Wednesday.
Information Minister Labaran Maku said the nurse,now a confirmed case, and her 20 contacts were all under surveillance in Enugu, bringing the total number being watched in Nigeria to 189.
Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu later confirmed that the nurse had tested positive for Ebola.
After contracting the virus in Lagos, she travelled with her husband to Enugu, where she fell sick and went to a hospital.
Medical staff in Enugu transported her back to a special isolation unit in Lagos, where she is currently being treated, the minister said.
So far, there is no confirmation that she infected anyone in the eastern city, but “21 persons (in Enugu) are being watched,” Maku said.
Nigeria has recorded 10 Ebola cases, including three deaths. All the cases are currently in Lagos but a spread of the virus across the country, Africa’s most populous, would place immense strain on a weak healthcare system.
The nurse’s husband has also been quarantined in Lagos despite not having any symptoms, Chukwu told journalists.
“We have to be sure,” the health minister said.
Nigeria has tried to locate everyone who interacted with Sawyer, including those on his flight, which originated in Liberia’s capital Monrovia.
Maku said 198 people have been identified who may have come into contact with the disease, including those in Enugu.
The worst-ever outbreak of the tropical disease has killed more than 1,000 people since the start of the year in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Nigeria is the fourth country to be affected by the epidemic.
All of the affected countries have declared national emergencies over Ebola.
Disclosure about a possible Ebola dispersal to the eastern city came as the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported 128 new Ebola cases and 56 deaths in West Africa in the two days to August 11, raising the death toll from the worst ever outbreak of the disease to 1,069.
Since the outbreak was identified in March, there have been a total of 1,975 confirmed, probable and suspected Ebola cases in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, the United Nations health agency said in a statement.