Nigeria’s Lagos has 10 confirmed cases of Ebola, up from seven at the last count, although only two so far have died, including the Liberian who brought the virus in, the health minister said on Monday.
All were people who had had primary contact with Patrick Sawyer, who collapsed on arrival at Lagos airport on July 25th and later died, Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu told a news conference. A nurse who treated him not knowing what it was and without protective gear also died.
“As at today, 77 primary and secondary contacts of the index case have been placed under surveillance or isolation,” he added. The latest case was also a nurse who had had primary contact with Sawyer.
“When she got ill, we then brought her into isolation. We just tested her over the weekend.”
She had been at home with her husband, who was also now under surveillance, Chukwu said.
The West African Ebola outbreak is the worst in history and the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday it represents an international health emergency that will likely continue spreading for months. It said 961 people have died during the outbreak and 1,779 have been infected.
The disease has strained health systems of affected states and governments have responded with measures including national emergencies declared in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.
Nigeria faces the added problem that public doctors are on strike over pay and working conditions and have resisted calls by the government to end their strike to tackle the Ebola crisis.
The Nigerian Red Cross said it had provided 18 volunteers to work with the authorities to educate people on how Ebola is spread.
Ebola is one of the world’s most deadly diseases, with no known vaccine or cure. The Zaire strain – the one currently spreading through West Africa – can kill up to 90 percent of sufferers, although in the latest outbreak the death toll has been around 55 percent.