Infected Nigerian nurse skips Ebola quarantine

Abuja - A nurse who contracted Ebola at a Lagos hospital travelled to the eastern part of Nigeria before falling sick, raising fears of new infections outside the city, officials said on Wednesday.

The nurse was infected with the deadly tropical disease while caring for Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian government employee who brought Ebola to Lagos on 20 July.

He died on 25 July under quarantine at the First Consultants hospital in Lagos.

Information Minister Labaran Maku earlier told journalists that the nurse "disobeyed medical instructions" given to hospital staff by travelling to Enugu, a major city in the east.

21 being watched

Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu later confirmed that the nurse had tested positive for Ebola.

After contracting the virus in Lagos, she travelled with her husband to Enugu, where she fell sick and went to a hospital.

Medical staff in Enugu transported her back to a special isolation unit in Lagos, where she is currently being treated, the minister said.

So far, there is no confirmation that she infected anyone in the eastern city, but "21 persons (in Enugu) are being watched," Maku said.

Nigeria has recorded 10 Ebola cases, including three deaths. All the cases are currently in Lagos but a spread of the virus across the country, Africa's most populous, would place immense strain on a weak healthcare system.

The nurse's husband has also been quarantined in Lagos despite not having any symptoms, Chukwu told journalists.

"We have to be sure," the health minister said.

Nigeria has tried to locate everyone who interacted with Sawyer, including those on his flight, which originated in Liberia's capital Monrovia.

Maku said 198 people have been identified who may have come into contact with the disease, including those in Enugu.

The worst-ever outbreak of the tropical disease has killed more than 1,000 people since the start of the year in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Nigeria is the fourth country to be affected by the epidemic.

All of the affected countries have declared national emergencies over Ebola.

Restrictions on burials

Nigeria's health minister said the government had cracked down on the movement of corpses for burial.

Aside from health workers, those who participate in the burial of Ebola victims are among the most at-risk for infection.

Families who want to repatriate the remains of a relative must secure a special waiver, which will only be given after the cause of death has been established, Chukwu said.

Similarly, transporting a corpse across state lines is prohibited without approval from federal health authorities, he said.

Read more on: nigeria west africa ebola
Chivo Garcia 2014-08-14 07:38:29 AM
Ai Africa....You will always be in trouble
Emma Sanderson 2014-08-14 07:40:11 AM
As a nurse she should have known far better. That is why these epidemics are so hard to curtail because people are inherently stupid, selfish or both. This is really dangerous. I think we should close our borders to foreigners. Our public hospitals are a shameful disgrace and we would not be able to manage any outbreak. We can't even manage to produce clean sheets for all hospital beds, how on earth could we combat an epidemic? There is a steady stream of travellers to and from Nigeria. Close the borders and monitor the border staff to ensure that no one turns a blind eye for cash as they do.
Mohau Moloto 2014-08-14 07:42:31 AM
This is fear mongering, next they will be telling us the nurse boarded a plane to south africa.
Lyndatjie 2014-08-14 07:53:13 AM
Stupid and selfish...
Chantelle Crocker Monaghan 2014-08-14 07:55:13 AM
wahahahha Zuma u are a genius
Sarah Stanton 2014-08-14 08:21:05 AM
She contracted the disease from Sawyer because the hospital allowed nursing staff and care takers to continue treating Sawyer as a normal patient up to 48 hours AFTER he had been officially diagnosed with EVD. Her employer and Government have a lot to answer for.
Siyabonga Biyela 2014-08-14 08:29:11 AM
Nigerians are that selfish? That's the second one we know about, who chose not to die alone
Enock 2014-08-14 08:41:28 AM
U go girl! No one deserves to die alone, was it her fault that she was just doing her job then got infected? I would also run away and hangout amongst the masses
Nkosingiphile Ngubane 2014-08-14 08:42:25 AM
Goodness some people are selfish beyond description. As a nurse she knew the risks which she was exposing others to. Sawyer mentioned in the article did the same thing and as a result, 3 people are dead because of his arrogance. How many are going to die because of this nurse...
Christina Setloboko 2014-08-14 09:39:11 AM
Stupid, selfish and ignorant, nxa