The Federal Government has placed 69 persons, who had first contact with the Liberian-born victim of Ebola Virus, Patrick Sawyerr, on surveillance, while two persons have been quarantined (isolated), the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, has said.
Sawyer died in a Lagos hospital on Friday last week.
Chukwu debunked reports that the government had closed its borders, saying such move might not be taken “except when it becomes necessary.”
According to him, those who came in contact with the late sawyer will be under surveillance for a period of weeks from the date of contact in line with the specifications of the World Health Organisation.
The Minister at a joint press briefing with the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku,on Thursdayon the update of the virus, said the Liberian victim, with dual citizenship of Liberia and the United States, was confirmed dead barely four days after arrival in Nigeria.
He said, “We decided on the proper manner on how to dispose his body because the corpse of any victim of Ebola disease is very toxic.
The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control decontaminated the body. We are tracking all those, who had primary contact with him.
As of today, 69 persons have been placed under surveillance while two persons have been quarantined.
“All those in the same aircraft going to attend the meeting with him in Calabar are presently under surveillance.
They will remain under this surveillance until a period of three weeks from the date of contact.
“We have a copy of the passengers’ manifest and we discovered that the sitting arrangement was free sitting. We are working with the airlines to track down those other passengers yet to be identified.
“As a Federal Government policy, we have not closed our borders, unless it becomes necessary. But the Aviation Minister is working with us in many aspects to make sure that the virus does not spread.”
Chukwu stated that contrary to some views, the disease “can be contacted on air even while airborne once you contact the droplets.”
The minister said government was engaging the states right from the moment that the disease was first reported in Guinea.
He added, “Our rapid response team are in Lagos. Nigeria has been commended by WHO. Secondary contacts are also important.
We are working with the Cross River State Government. We are not going to quarantine them but we have demanded their contact details.”
Chukwu commended the hospital, where the patient was managed, saying, “We commend them for the great job they have done.
They did everything to keep the man alive but unfortunately, he passed on.
We have ordered the closure of the hospital. The doctors are under surveillance; we are using WHO certified personal protective equipment.
“Doctors are at high risk but Nigerians should not panic.”