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World Press Briefing On the Ebola Outbreak by The Honourable Minister of Health
Date Posted: 11/Aug/2014
Update on Ebola - 10 Confirmed Cases, 177 Under Surveillance
On Sunday the 20th July, 2014, a Liberian-American Financial Consultant with the Liberian Ministry of Finance, Mr. Patrick Sawyer, who was under surveillance in Liberia for a suspected case of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), evaded the authorities in Monrovia and tragically boarded for Lagos in Nigeria, via Lome in Togo and Accra in Ghana. His intention was to connect to Calabar in Nigeria to attend a two-day retreat organized by the ECOWAS Commission, and later the same week to Atlanta Georgia in the USA to celebrate his daughter's birthday. However, because of the protocols initiated in all our ports since the EVD outbreak in the three countries of the sub region since March this year, Mr Sawyer was flagged at the point of disembarkation in Lagos. He was then accordingly quarantined and transferred to a hospital in Lagos, straight from the airport, for further actions.
Twenty Four hours later, Mr. Sawyer who had by then developed the full complement of the EVD symptoms also tested positive to the Ebola Virus at the laboratory of Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), and died three days later on the 24th of July, 2014. By then, the National Ebola Virus Response Plan already in place had been activated and all the forty-eight passengers who had flown to Nigeria with the late Mr. Sawyer were traced through an elaborate contact tracing mechanism. Also, twenty two others (among whom, were the health personnel who treated the late American) were promptly identified, isolated and monitored for symptoms and tests of the EVD
Unfortunately, out of the initial 70 under both surveillance and isolation, 9 of them developed symptoms of Ebola and were confirmed to have EVD by the same laboratory at LUTH; tragically, one of them, a nurse, passed away on Wednesday the 6th of August, 2014.
Within the initial forty eight hours of the death of this first Nigerian from EVD, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan approved the National Ebola Virus Disease Emergency Containment Plan with an immediate cash backing of One Billion Nine Hundred Million Naira only (1.9Billion) which is about 12Million USD to further complement the containment efforts already in place. The Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Health and its agencies, works very closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), Unicef, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local authorities and other international partners to further deepen and broaden these containment efforts. We shall single out the WHO and the CDC for special commendation for their understanding and continuous support in this challenging moment; particularly for the partnership and most importantly for the capacity building of our Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)
Nigeria wishes to emphasize that, it essentially remained an Ebola Virus free country until this incidence of importation and unfortunate contamination. We will continue to work with all stakeholders, local and international partners to maximize on this and intensify efforts to contain and treat the existing cases.
It has been 22 days since EVD first landed in Nigeria. As at today, 177 primary and secondary contacts of the index case have been placed under surveillance or isolation. 9 developed EVD, bringing the total number of cases in Nigeria to 10. Of these 10, 2 have died (the Liberian American and the Nigerian nurse) while 8 are alive and currently on treatment.
At the sub regional level, the EVD was discussed as a substantive agenda during the Summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government on the 9th of July 2014 in Accra Ghana. Nigeria played, as usual, its leading, pioneering and compassionate role during the Summit with the first and only donation of 3.5Million USD humanitarian and capacity building aid to the three affected countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the West African Health Organization (WAHO), and the ECOWAS Ebola Fund.
The Liberian Government has expressed its deepest sympathies and regrets that Mr. Sawyer had even embarked on this tragic journey, which has brought needless sufferings, death and has placed an unnecessary stress on our health system. In the same spirit, we share in solidarity, the grief of the governments and people of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone as we confront this challenge together.
Finally, I wish to reiterate that, the Federal Government of Nigeria, shall continue to discharge its responsibilities within the sub region as we collectively confront and stop this outbreak of Ebola.
Thank you.


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