Tag Archives: Lagos

Ebola Death Toll Nears 2,000 Mark

Posted on in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, West Africa title_rule

According to new figures released Thursday by the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1,900 people have died in West Africa’s Ebola outbreak. There have also been 3,500 confirmed or probable cases reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. WHO chief Margaret Chan warned Thursday “the outbreaks are racing ahead of the control efforts in these countries,” adding that at least US $600 million (£360 million) is needed in order to fight the virus. Ms Chan has described the current outbreak as “the largest and most severe and most complex we have ever seen.”

The latest statistics represent a significant increase from the 1,552 deaths and 3,069 cases that were reported by the Geneva-based organisation last week. According to the WHO, more than 40% of the deaths have occurred in the three weeks leading up to 3 September. This indicates that the epidemic is fast outpacing efforts to control it. According to Ms Chan, the WHO “…would like to reverse the trend in three months” in those countries where there is a “very tense transmission.” This includes Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In countries with “localized transmission,” such as Senegal, where so far only one case has been reported, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which now has reported 31 deaths, the WHO “would like to stop all transmission within eight weeks.”

The speed of the deadly virus has prompted WHO officials to meet on Thursday in order to examine the most promising treatments and to discuss how to fast-track testing and production. According to sources, disease control experts, medical researchers, officials from affected countries and specialists in medical ethics will be represented at the meeting, which will take place in Geneva.

The Ebola virus has continued to spread in Nigeria, despite WHO officials stating that they were hopeful it would remain under control. On Wednesday, Nigerian authorities reported two additional cases in the city of Port Harcourt. Until the Port Harcourt case was announced, Nigeria’s government had indicated that the virus was contained in Lagos. On Thursday, the WHO warned “the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Port Harcourt has the potential to grow larger and spread faster than the one in Lagos.” The UN health body has disclosed that the virus’ arrival in Port Harcourt, located 435 kilometres (270 miles) east of Lagos and home to oil and gas majors including Chevron, Shell and Total, showed “multiple high-risk opportunities for transmission of the virus to others.” Out of 255 people currently under surveillance for signs of the disease, 60 are considered to have had “high-risk or very high-risk exposure.

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Nigeria Fears Ebola Spread Outside of Lagos

Posted on in Kenya, Nigeria title_rule

Health officials in Nigeria disclosed Wednesday that a nurse, who contracted Ebola at a Lagos hospital, travelled to the eastern part of the country before falling ill, raising fears that the deadly outbreak may now spread outside of the southern city.

Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu has confirmed that the nurse had tested positive for Ebola, adding that the she had “disobeyed medical instructions,” that were given to hospital staff, by travelling to Enugu, which is a major city located in the eastern region of Nigeria. Sources have disclosed that the nurse was infected with the tropical disease while caring for Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian government employee who brought Ebola to Lagos on July 20. He died five days later while under quarantine at the First Consultants hospital in Lagos. After contracting the virus in Lagos, the nurse travelled with her husband to Enugu, where she fell six and was admitted to hospital. Medical staff in Enugu later transported her back to the special isolation unit in Lagos, where she is currently being treated.

While so far there have been no confirmations that she infected anyone in the eastern city, Information Minister Labaran Maku has disclosed that “21 persons in Enugu are being watched,” including the nurse’s husband, who has not displayed any symptoms. Nigeria has recorded 10 Ebola cases, including three deaths. While all the cases are currently in Lagos, a spread of the deadly virus across the country will place immense strain on the already weak healthcare system.

Kenya Classified as High-Risk for Spread of Ebola

Officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) have classified Kenya as a “high-risk” country for the spread of the deadly Ebola virus. To date, this is the most serious warning issued by the WHO that the deadly Ebola virus could spread to East Africa.

A statement released by the WHO’s country director for Kenya, Custodia Mandihate, indicated that the East African country was “classified in group two; at a high risk of transmission,” adding that Kenya was vulnerable as it was a major transport hub, with many flights coming from West Africa. In recent weeks, a number of measures have been set up in Kenya in a bid to prevent the deadly virus from spreading to the country. These include health checks at the main airport in the capital Nairobi. Despite receiving more than seventy flights per week from West Africa, the Kenyan government however has disclosed that they will not ban flights from the four countries that have been affected by the latest outbreak.

In the latest data released by the WHO on Wednesday, the number of people killed by Ebola in West Africa has risen to 1,069 with 1,975 suspected cases reported. Over a period of two days, there were fifty-six new deaths and 128 new cases reported in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone.

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Liberia Announces State of Emergency as Concern Grows Over Outbreak in Other Countries

Posted on in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, West Africa title_rule

As the West African region continues to struggle to contain the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, on Wednesday, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declared a state of emergency. The move, which is set to be ratified by Liberia’s parliament on Thursday, comes a week after Sierra Leone’s government declared a state of emergency.

Speaking on national television President Sirleaf disclosed that the state of emergency would come into effect as the epidemic now represented a threat to state security, noting that Liberia required “extraordinary measures for the very survival of our state and for the protection of the lives of our people.” The Liberian President further noted, “ignorance and poverty, as well as entrenched religious and cultural practices, continue to exacerbate the spread of the disease.” A statement released by the presidency has indicated that the state of emergency is effective as of 6 August and will last for a minimum period of ninety days. While the Liberian government has not yet disclosed the full effects of this state of emergency, sources have indicated that some civil liberties may have to be suspended as the country moves to contain the outbreak.

The outbreak of the deadly haemorrhagic fever has overwhelmed healthcare systems across the affected regions while the on going fight against its spread has been largely hampered by the fact that many indigenous people living in the forested border areas that straddle Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone believe that the virus was either introduced deliberately or it is a hoax fabricated by the West and designed to subjugate them. Such beliefs have resulted in relatives discharging highly contagious patients and taking them back to their villages, where countless individuals may have come into contact with them.  According to medical sources, “when patients are forcefully taken away, there comes the problem of transmission of the disease to others and this makes the issue of contact-tracing difficult.” Despite Liberian officials announcing that anyone caught hiding Ebola-infected persons would be arrested, many observers continue to indicate that the Ebola crisis in the country has gotten worse because many people are choosing to keep their sick relatives at home instead of taking them to isolation centres. In Guinea, medical experts have been attacked by angry mobs while in Sierra Leone and Liberia, traditional communities have ignored warnings not to touch the bodies of the dead during funeral rituals.

This has also prompted the deployment of troops to quarantine the worst hit areas in the remote border regions of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.  In Liberia, operation “White Shield” has seen the country’s army deployed to implement controls and to isolate the severely affected communities. On Wednesday, Liberia’s information ministry disclosed that soldiers were being deployed to the isolated, rural counties of Lofa, Bong, Cape Mount and Bomi. Soldiers will set up checkpoints in these areas and will implement tracing measures on those residents who are suspected of coming into contact with Ebola patients. In Sierra Leone, 800 troops, including 50 military nurses, have been deployed to guard hospitals and clinics that are treating Ebola patients.

New WHO Figures Indicate Spread of Ebola Continuing

New data released by the World Health Organization (WHO) has indicated that between 2 – 4 August, forty-five new deaths have been reported, bringing the total to 932 in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Most of the fatalities have been reported in Liberia, where 282 people have died of the virus. There have also been 1,711 cases reported. This has prompted WHO experts and officials to meet in Geneva Switzerland this week in order to discuss new measures to contain the outbreak. On Wednesday, officials at the WHO also indicated that they would convene a meeting of medical ethics specialists next week in order to decide whether to approve experimental treatment for Ebola. The decision comes as some leading infectious disease experts have been calling for experimental treatments to be offered more widely in order to treat the disease. According to sources, the two-day meeting will also decide whether it is necessary to declare a global health emergency. If such a public health emergency is declared, this could involve detailed plans to identify, isolate and treat cases as well as to impose travel restrictions on the affected areas.

Further Cases Reported in Nigeria

As the death toll continues to rise, concern has been growing over the spread of Ebola and the threat that it may extend to other countries outside of the African continent. International alarm at the spread of the disease increased late last month after a US citizen died in Nigeria after flying from Liberia. Since then, concern has been growing over the number of new cases that have been reported in Nigeria as reports have emerged that health officials did not immediately quarantine a sick airline passenger who later died of Ebola.

On Wednesday, health officials in Nigeria confirmed a second death from the Ebola virus, adding that five new cases of Ebola have been reported in Lagos, one of the country’s most populous city. Health minister Onyebuch Chukwu, confirmed, “Nigeria has now recorded 7 confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVB),” adding that those who died include a Liberian man who brought the disease to Lagos on July 20 and a nurse who treated him. The health minister further noted that “all the Nigerians diagnosed with EVB are primary contacts” of Patrick Sawyer, who worked for Liberia’s finance ministry and who contracted the virus from his sister. Mr Sawyer was transferred to the First Consultants hospital in the upmarket Ikoyi neighbourhood of Lagos. He died on July 25.

While authorities had initially indicated that the risk of any exposure to others was minimal, as Mr Sawyer had been placed into isolation directly after arriving at the airport with symptoms of Ebola, on Tuesday Lagos state health commissioner Jide Idris revealed that the nature of his disease “was not known” the first day and that only after further investigation did officials suspect Ebola.

Tuesday’s announcement that Mr Sawyer had not been immediately quarantined further underscore concerns that West African countries are not adequately equipped in order to contain such a disease. While the Ebola virus can spread only through bodily fluids, and after the patient begins to show symptoms, the incubation period can last up to three weeks. Consequently, some of the Nigerians who treated Mr. Sawyer are only now showing signs of illness.

Possible Ebola Case Outside of African Continent

Saudi Arabia’s health ministry revealed Wednesday that a Saudi man, who was being treated for Ebola-like symptoms, has died at a hospital in Jeddah.

The 40-year-old returned from a business trip in Sierra Leone, one of four countries affected by the outbreak, on Sunday. The health ministry has indicated that the man died of cardiac arrest and that he was being tested for Ebola however the ministry has not confirmed whether the tests had concluded that he had the disease.   If confirmed, this would be the first-Ebola related death to occur outside the on going outbreak in Africa, which has already killed more than 900 people this year.   In April of this year, officials in Saudi Arabia announced that they would not issue visas this year to Muslim pilgrims from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The decision was made as a precaution to avoid the spread of the disease during the hajj pilgrimage, which sees massive crowds of people from around the world gather in Mecca.

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Cross-Border Isolation Zone Comes into Effect as Nigeria confirms Second Ebola Case

Posted on in Nigeria title_rule

Amidst increasing warnings that the deadly Ebola epidemic is growing out of control, three Ebola-hit West African nations have agreed to impose a cross-border isolation zone at the epicentre of the world’s worst-ever outbreak. Meanwhile officials in Nigeria disclosed Monday that a second Ebola case just three weeks after the first was recorded.

The announcement to impose a cross-border isolation zone came hours after an emergency summit was held in the Guinean capital on Friday, where leaders of the affected states, along with a number of regional heads of state, met to discuss the outbreak. Hadja Saran Darab, the secretary-general of the Mano River Union bloc grouping the nations disclosed “we have agreed to take important and extraordinary actions at the inter-country level to focus on cross-border regions that have more than 70 percent of the epidemic,” adding “these areas will be isolated by police and military. The people in these areas being isolated will be provided with material support.” While Darab did not outline the exact area which will be part of the isolation zone, the epicentre of the outbreak has a diameter of almost 300 kilometres (185 miles), and spreads from Kenema in eastern Sierra Leone to Macenta in southern Guinea, and covers most of Liberia’s extreme northern forests.

During the summit, the leaders of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone launched a US $100 million (£59 million) action plan that will see several hundred more medical staff deployed to battle the epidemic. The three countries will also increase their efforts to prevent and detect suspected cases urge better border surveillance and reinforce the WHO’s sub-regional outbreak coordination centre, which has been set up in Guinea. During the summit, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Margaret Chan also revealed that the response of the three countries to the epidemic had been “woefully inadequate,” adding that the outbreak was now “moving faster than our efforts to control it.”

New data released Friday by the WHO has indicated that the Ebola virus has already killed more than 700 people, with more than 1,000 cases reported in four West African countries. Officials at the WHO are also warning that if the disease continues to spread, it could cause a “catastrophic” loss of life and result in severe economic disruption.

On Monday, officials in Nigeria revealed a second Ebola case, that of one of the doctors who treated a man who died from Ebola after he arrived in Lagos from Liberia.

Nigeria’s Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu has indicated that seventy people who may have come into contact with Patrick Sawyer, the man who died of Ebola, have been tracked down and are being monitored, while eight have been placed in quarantine at a facility in Lagos. Patrick Sawyer, an employee of the Liberian finance ministry, had arrived in Lagos from Monrovia after changing planes in Togo’s capital, Lome on 20 July. He died five days later while in quarantine at a private hospital in Lagos. Sources believe that he contracted the virus from his sister.

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Liberia Implements New Ebola Measures as Virus Spreads to Fourth Country

Posted on in Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone title_rule

Strict Measures Implemented in Liberia

In a bid to halt the continuing spread of the deadly virus, Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has ordered the closure of most of Liberia’s border crossings and has ordered strict quarantines for those communities affected by the Ebola outbreak. The latest measures come just one month after the Liberian President warned that anyone caught hiding suspected Ebola patients would be prosecuted.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has announced the closure of most of Liberia’s land borders adding that stringent medical checks are being increased at those airports and major trade routes that will remain open. A statement released by the government indicated, “all borders of Liberia will be closed with the exception of major entry points,” adding that all these entry points will have preventive and testing centres. Three major border crossings, a provincial airport and Monrovia’s international airport are exempted from the closures. The government has also banned public gatherings of any kind, including events and demonstrations. Authorities have not disclosed how the long these closures will remain in place.

The announcement, which occurred late Sunday, came just one day after the Liberian President formed a new taskforce charged with containing the disease that has already killed 129 in the country and more than 670 in the West African region. According to a statement released by the President’s office, the special Ebola task force will ensure that “communities that are seriously affected will be quarantined and travels in and out of such communities restricted.” The new orders include strict observation at the international airport of all outgoing and incoming passengers, who are now liable for inspection and testing. All government facilities and public places will also install public access for washing of hands while all hotels, restaurants, and film centres are to play a five-minute information clip on Ebola awareness and prevention.

While Guinea has borne the brunt of the outbreak, in recent weeks, Liberia has seen a sharp rise in Ebola cases and deaths. Amongst those killed by the deadly virus is prominent Liberian doctor Samuel Brisbane, who died this past weekend after a three-week battle with the virus. Two American aid workers have also fallen ill. Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian charity, confirmed Sunday that its physician Kent Brantly was in stable condition and had been isolated at the group’s Ebola treatment centre at the ELWA hospital in Liberia’s capital Monrovia. The charity further disclosed that Nancy Writtebol, a missionary with the SIM Christian charity that runs that hospital, is also in stable condition. Ms Writtebol had been working as a hygienist responsible for detoxifying protective suits worn by those entering and exiting Ebola isolation centres. Dr Brantly is the medical director of the Samaritan’s Purse Ebola case management centre in Liberia, where the agency is continuing to work with Liberian and international health officials in a bid to contain the outbreak. He began working with the group’s Liberia team in October and since June, he has been focusing on Ebola patients.

Ebola Virus Spreads to Nigeria with first Confirmed Death in Lagos

On Friday, officials in Nigeria disclosed that the Ebola virus has caused the death of a Liberian national who died while in quarantine in Lagos. The announcement confirms that the worst-ever outbreak of the virus has now spread to Africa’s most populous country, which is already battling a deadly militant insurgency in the north.

Nigeria’s Health Minister Onyebuch Chukwu told journalists that “thorough medical tests” had confirmed “the virus of Ebola” as the cause of death. The 40-year-old Liberian national, who died overnight, had worked for the Liberian government and had travelled to Nigeria from Monrovia by air via Togo’s capital Lome. According to the Liberian government, the man’s final destination had been the southern city of Calabar, where he was scheduled to attend a meeting organized by the west African bloc ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States).

While fears are growing that the Ebola virus may rapidly spread in the populous city of Lagos, Nigeria’s Health Minister has attempted to calm local citizens, noting that upon the man’s arrival, he was transported directly to hospital, noting that the patient “avoided contact with the general public and that there was no time for him to mingle in Lagos.” According to Chukwu, “all the passengers that the patient came in contact with have been traced and are being investigated,” insisting that health officials have made direct contact with everyone on board the flight and are now monitoring their conditions. The patient had been flying on Togo-based ASKY Airlines.

In the wake of the first Ebola death in Nigeria, the country’s largest airline, Arik Air, has suspended all flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The company has disclosed that the decision to halt flights is a precautionary measure. A statement released by the airline, which operates routes across West Africa, indicated “we feel especially compelled to take the business decision to immediately suspend flight services into the two Ebola affected countries due to our interest in the well-being of Nigerians,” adding “we humbly suggest that as a first step, all inbound flights into Nigeria which originate from any of the Ebola affected countries, be immediately suspended.”

Nigeria has put all its entry points on red alert after confirming that a Liberian man died of Ebola after arriving at Lagos airport on Tuesday.

First Ebola Death Confirmed in Freetown

Meanwhile in Sierra Leone, a woman suffering from the first confirmed case of Ebola in the country’s capital city died Saturday after her parents forcibly took her from hospital. According to a statement released by the health ministry, Saudatu Koroma, a 32-year-old trainee hairdresser, was admitted to a clinic on July 23 had tested positive for the disease adding “her farther and mother forcibly took her away from the hospital” just two days after she was admitted.

While her disappearance prompted authorities in Freetown to broadcast a nationwide television and radio alert, which eventually persuaded her to return for treatment, Koroma died on Saturday while on her way to an Ebola treatment centre in the country’s east. According to an official, Koroma “…was severely dehydrated and weak and could hardly speak,” adding, “blood samples taken from both the father and mother are now being tested.” The house where Ms Koroma had lived in, in the eastern area of Freetown, has been quarantined over the past twenty-one days.

Sierra Leone’s health ministry confirmed Monday that an Ebola treatment centre has been established at Lakka Hospital, with health staff trained to handle the disease. Surveillance has also been increased throughout the country, with people now being requested to report all suspected cases to local health authorities.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of July 20, the number of Ebola cases recorded in the months-long epidemic stood at 1,093. This includes more than 660 deaths.

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