It has been reported in the Liberian media in Monrovia that Mr. Patrick Sawyer, a WASH consultant at the Ministry of Finance, who had been quarantined since falling ill after arriving in the Nigerian state of Lagos for a conference last Sunday, has died.
A Liberian government official, speaking on condition of anonymity said the news of Sawyer’s death was relayed to Liberia by the Nigerian embassy, early Friday morning.
Nigerian government health authorities announced Thursday that Sawyer, 40 was being tested for the deadly Ebola virus in Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos, a megacity of 21 million people.
Sawyer’s death is the first recorded case of one of the world’s deadliest diseases in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and most populous nation, with 170 million people and some of Africa’s least adequate health infrastructure.
Ebola has killed 632 people across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since an outbreak began in February, straining a string of weak health systems despite international help.
The virus — which starts off with flu-like symptoms and often ends with horrific hemorrhaging — has infected about 1,048 people and killed an estimated 632 since this winter, according to the numbers on July 17 from the World Health Organization.
Ebola is both rare and very deadly. Since the first outbreak in 1976, Ebola viruses have infected thousands of people and killed about one-third of them. Symptoms can come on very quickly and kill fast:
FrontPageAfrica reported Thursday that Sawyer may have contracted the virus from his sister, who died at the Catholic Hospital some three weeks ago. Sawyer had told friends that the sister husband had fled the home after the wife died and that he(Patrick) convinced him to report to health authorities to check for signs of Ebola.
Ebola has killed 660 people across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since an outbreak in February, straining their flimsy healthcare systems despite international help.
On Thursday, a spokesman for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva confirmed Nigeria had “one suspect case” and said samples had been sent to a WHO lab for testing.
The special adviser on public health to the Lagos state government, Yewande Adeshina, told a news conference that Sawyer had collapsed on arrival at Lagos airport from Liberia on Sunday. He was rushed to hospital and put in an isolation ward, she said. “The patient was admitted and detained on suspicion of possible EBV (Ebola virus) infection, while blood sample collection and testing was initiated,” she said in her statement, adding that “results are pending.”
Sawyer’s death comes in the wake of reports out of Sierra Leone that the head doctor fighting the deadly tropical virus in Sierra Leone has himself caught the disease.
Thirty-nine-year-old Sheik Umar Khan, hailed as a ‘national hero’ by the health ministry, was leading the fight to control an outbreak that has killed 206 people in the West African country.
There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola which can kill up to 90 percent of those infected, although the mortality rate of the current outbreak is lower at around 60 percent.
Across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, 632 people have died from the illness, according to the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) data, putting great strain on the health systems of some of Africa’s poorest countries.
The WHO report, released on Saturday, showed that there were 19 new deaths and 67 new cases within the four days since its previous statement.
Ebola is one of a number of viruses that can cause hemorrhagic fever, and that others, including Lassa fever virus and Dengue virus, could turn out to be the diagnosis in this case.