August 2014 – PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria – A medical doctor has died of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Nigeria’s southern city of Port Harcourt, the first death from the virus outside the commercial city of Lagos, the authorities in Rivers State, of which Port Harcourt is capital, confirmed. State Commissioner for Health Sampson Parker told journalists Thursday that the doctor apparently contracted the disease after treating an ECOWAS staff who had primary contact with the index case, Liberian Patrick Sawyer, in Lagos. He said the ECOWAS Staff sneaked into Port Harcourt from Lagos and stayed at a private hotel in the southern city, where he was treated by the medical doctor. However, while the doctor died last Friday, the ECOWAS staff, who has since returned to Lagos, is still alive. The Commissioner identified the medical doctor as Ike Enemuo but did not identify the ECOWAS staff by name, neither did he give the name of the hotel where he stayed in Port Harcourt. He however said 100 people who had contact with the medical doctor had been put under surveillance. PANA reports that another ECOWAS staff in Lagos had died of the disease. Sawyer was assisted to the hospital by the ECOWAS Protocol staffers who met him on arrival at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos last month, when he came for a conference in the southern city of Calabar.
The latest EVD death brings to six the number of people who have died of the disease in Nigeria, and the spread of the virus to Port Harcourt represents a setback for Nigeria’s efforts to curtail the virus. On Tuesday, Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu had declared that Nigeria had succeeded in checkmating the spread of the virus in the country. “Ebola has been curtailed. All 129 people under surveillance have completed the 21-day observation period and only a person is symptomatic and is being observed,” he had said. But on Wednesday, the Minister stepped back from his earlier declaration, saying it was still early for Nigeria to claim to be free of the virus. Also on Wednesday, the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General on Ebola, David Navarro, hailed Nigeria’s successful containment of the disease. “The Secretary-General asked me to come here too, not because you have an Ebola problem, but because you have tackled it in an exemplary fashion,” Navarro told President Goodluck Jonathan during a meeting in the capital city of Abuja. According to the latest update by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 1,552 people have died of the EVD in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. – The Sun Daily