WHO warns over Ebola in Nigeria's Port Harcourt

Lagos - An Ebola outbreak in Nigeria's oil producing hub of Port Harcourt could spread wider and faster than in the financial capital, Lagos, the World Health Organisation warned on Thursday.

The UN health body said the arrival of the virus in Port Harcourt, which is 435km east of Lagos, showed "multiple high-risk opportunities for transmission of the virus to others".

The haemorrhagic fever, which has hit five countries in West Africa and caused nearly 2 000 deaths this year, first arrived in Nigeria when a Liberian finance ministry official died in Lagos on 25 July.

He was taken from the city's airport to a private hospital by two officials from the West African regional bloc Ecowas.

One of the officials later died of the disease but the other evaded detection to travel to Port Harcourt, where he fell ill and was treated in secret at a city hotel room by medical doctor Ike Enemuo from 1-3 August.

'Numerous contacts with the community'

The Ecowas official recovered but the WHO said Enemuo continued to treat patients at his private clinic and operated on at least two people, despite showing symptoms from 11 August of Ebola - of which he later died.

"On 13 August, his symptoms worsened; he stayed at home and was hospitalised on 16 August," the WHO said in an emailed statement.

"Prior to hospitalisation, the physician had numerous contacts with the community, as relatives and friends visited his home to celebrate the birth of a baby.

"Once hospitalised, he again had numerous contacts with the community, as members of his church visited to perform a healing ritual said to involve the laying on of hands."

Over the six days he spent in hospital "the majority" of healthcare staff treated him while two doctors performed an abdominal scan at an ultrasound clinic the day before his death, the statement added.

Multiple risk exposure

"Given these multiple high-risk exposure opportunities, the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Port Harcourt has the potential to grow larger and spread faster than the one in Lagos," it added.

A total of 255 people were currently under surveillance in Port Harcourt for signs of Ebola, Nigeria's Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said on Wednesday.

An elderly woman who was a patient at the hospital where Enemuo was treated died from the disease, taking the number of victims in Nigeria to seven out of 18 confirmed cases.

Enemuo's wife - who is also a doctor - was in an isolation unit in Lagos, while his sister is under quarantine in Port Harcourt.

Henk Kruger 2014/09/04 01:57:04 PM
Is the South African border well enough guarded to contain stray Ebola virus cases?
Christina Setloboko 2014/09/04 02:34:59 PM
And by way where are those fake prophets who claim to heal all diseases and bring all the luck and stuff, this is their time to show their powers i guess ans stop harassing us on every street corner.
Ty Len 2014/09/04 02:35:53 PM
'He was treated in secret In a HOTEL' how ridiculous can you be to go to a hotel, why was he not kept in isolation? ?????? The utter incompetence of africa will fuel the spread of ebola, clueless
Angelo Cardoso 2014/09/04 08:56:39 PM
Angelo Cardoso 2014/09/04 09:20:06 PM
OMG! It wasn't but a week ago that people were arguing with me that Nigeria had contained Ebola. I said I did not believe anything the Nigerian government says because they lied repeatedly about their containment efforts from the very beginning. It's not that they have not done a much better job than the other Ebola hot-spots. The truth is that they have told subtle but very dangerous lies that overstated their efforts and understated the risks of the infection spreading. For example, they said Sawyer was IMMEDIATELY quarantined when he got off the plane. That was acknowledged to be a fabrication but a dangerous one because it actually took them a day before he was quarantine. During that one day, the people who actually took Sawyer to the hospital, 2 ECOWAS officials, both became infected with one dying and the other eventually sneaking off to Port Harcourt. There were several other lies that we don't need to get into. But the biggest and most dangerous are the ones they are telling right now about Port Hartcourt. They said they are observing and monitoring over 200 people the doctor came into contact with. This number may be true, BUT HOW DO THEY KNOW THESE ARE ALL OF THEM??? They cannot possibly know everyone who was possibly exposed to this doctor because HE DIED BEFORE THEY COULD SPEAK WITH HIM! So at best, the people they have identified is an educated and informed guess, but it is quite possible that there are more because they just do not know for sure.
Angelo Cardoso 2014/09/04 09:29:17 PM
What is equally alarming about the Port Hartcourt development relates to the ECOWAS official. When Nigeria claimed that Ebola had been contained - the day before the Port Hartcourt news broke - THEY NEW IT WAS A LIE that they were telling their people and the international community. How so? Because they knew the ECOWAS official was possibly infected since he was one of the two who took Sawyer from the airport in Lagos. The government officials also knew that HE WAS MISSING since he had slipped quarantine. But they did not know where he was. Instead of putting out an alert with this man's photo and saying he was possibly infected, they chose to cover it up. He then turned up in Port Hartcourt and with the horrific news that he had spread the virus to the doctor there. But now they are just focusing on people who came into contact with the doctor. WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER PEOPLE WHO MAY HAVE COME INTO CONTACT WITH THE ESCAPED ECOWAS OFFICIAL. This man FLEW to Port Hartcourt while he was infected. Even though he has recovered, at that time he was actively spreading the virus because he was showing symptoms!!! I think the news is going to get a lot worse in Nigeria before it gets better. THEY HAVE NOT CONTAINED THE VIRUS. NOT EVEN CLOSE. We shall see. Give it till the end of September and you will understand what has truly happened here. The Nigerian government officials must stop the lies and sugar-coating NOW, otherwise unfortunately a lot more Nigerians may die!