By Sola Ogundipe, Olasunkanmi Akoni & Chioma Obinna
LAGOS—LAGOS State Government yesterday said Nigeria’s Ambassador to Liberia, Mrs. Chigozie Obi-Nnadozie was not one of the persons that had contacts with the late Liberian victim of Ebola disease, Mr. Patrick Sawyer, as earlier reported, blaming official of the Federal Government for the error.
Mr. Sawyer died in Lagos last Friday after flying into the country from Monrovia.
A statement by Lagos State government said it had since discovered that, rather it was the representative of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS President that traveled with the victim to Nigeria.
The state government, in a statement by Mr. Hakeem Bello, Special Adviser to the Governor Babatude Fashola on Media, apologised to Mrs. Obi-Nnadozie for the inconveniences the error may have caused her as an individual and as a high official of government.
The statement read in part “We wish to correct the error that Nigeria’s Ambassador to Liberia, Mrs. Chigozie Obi-Nnadozie, was one of the persons that had contacts with the late Liberian with Ebola virus, who died in Lagos last Friday after flying into the country from Monrovia. We have since learnt that the official who travelled to Nigeria with the victim and who was mistaken for the Nigerian Ambassador to Liberia was actually a representative of the ECOWAS President.
“We hereby tender our unreserved apologies to Her Excellency for the inconveniences this may have caused her both as an individual and a very high official and Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We, however wish to state here that the error was made by the official of the Federal Government who was at the briefing on Monday and provided the information at the Lagos Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja.”
Don’t travel to W’ Africa, US warns Americans
Meanwhile, United States Cen tre for Disease Control, CDC, yesterday warned American health care professionals to avoid non-essential travel to the West African countries with high burden of the Ebola disease to prevent them from contracting it, expressing fear that the deadly Ebola virus could spread like a forest fire.
Stephan Monroe, Deputy Director of the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, said, “The likelihood of this outbreak spreading beyond West Africa is very low.”
The warning issued in two notices, also warned travelers to avoid contact with blood and bodily fluids of sick people in the affected countries.
The World Health Organisation, WHO estimates that Ebola has killed at least 672 people in West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The CDC also sent out the notice to health care professionals in the U.S, reminding them to find out if patients had travelled to West Africa in the last two weeks, to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of Ebola and to isolate any suspected cases.
Most of the exposures to Ebola in health care settings had been through needle sticks and exposure while disposing of the diarrhoea, vomit and blood of sick people, said Monroe.
People are not contagious unless they exhibit symptoms, but often these signs — like fever and body aches — can be mistaken for other diseases like malaria and Lassa fever, experts said.
Also, only about half of cases involve bleeding, despite the perception that Ebola is characterised by widespread hemorrhage.
The State Department said the US was providing “personal protective equipment and other essential supplies” to the affected areas. We’re taking every precaution, of course, as would be expected,” said spokeswoman Jen Psaki, noted that the situation was not expected to affect a planned summit of African leaders next week in Washington.
The CDC said the family members of the American doctor who contracted Ebola, Kent Brantly, had been living with him in Liberia.
“However, by the time he fell ill they had already returned to the United States. As a precaution, they are being monitored for signs of fever for the incubation period of 21 days. An outbreak could not be declared over until two full incubation periods — 42 days — have passed without new cases, he added.
”The concern is that the outbreak can be reseeded, much like a forest fire with sparks from one tree,” said Monroe.
”That is clearly what happened in Liberia,” he said, noting that the country made it for more than 21 days without cases, but Ebola returned.
”They were reseeded by cases coming across the border, so until we can identify and interrupt every source of transmission, we won’t be able to control the outbreak.”