One of the doctors who treated Nigeria’s first Ebola victim has himself contracted the deadly virus, raising fears that the seven-month-long epidemic in three west African nations could spread in the continent’s most populous nation.
The doctor was part of a team that attended to Patrick Sawyer, a 40-year-old Liberian-American civil servant who collapsed on arrival at Lagos airport last month. Sawyer had flown from Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, with flight stopovers in nearby Ghana and Togo.
“As at today, one of the doctors that treated the late Mr Sawyer has tested positive to the Ebola virus,” the health minister Onyebuchi Chukwu told reporters in the capital, Abuja. Officials said they had identified 70 people with whom Sawyer had been in contact, eight of whom had been transferred to isolation wards in Lagos.
Authorities in Lagos have rapidly rolled out a series of preventive measures, including quarantining the hospital where Sawyer was treated, distributing protective clothing to health workers and screening airport and seaport passengers arriving from at-risk countries.
Information about the virus has been widely broadcast on radio stations, and some traders have begun cashing in with the sale of hand sanitiser branded “Ebola cleansing hand gels”. In the downtown business district where Sawyer was treated, a handful of traders could be seen wearing face masks.