Less than 24 hours after the health minister, Prof, Onyebuchi Chukwu announced the final containment of the deadly Ebola virus in Nigeria, a doctor has been confirmed dead of the virus in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Chukwu himself told journalists in Abuja on Thursday that the doctor contacted the disease after treating a patient who came in contact with Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian-American who brought Ebola to Nigeria.
According to the minister, the patient after experiencing some symptoms, went for treatment. “This primary contact of Sawyer’s evaded our surveillance team in the last week of July 2014 and travelled out of Lagos to Port Harcourt where, as we now understand, he consulted with a doctor and was apparently treated for some symptoms,” he said.
“After four days, following a manhunt for him, he returned to Lagos by which time he was found to be without symptoms. The same was, however, not the case for the doctor who treated him as he got infected and finally died on August 22.
“Following the report of this death by the doctor’s widow the next day, the case had been thoroughly investigated and laboratory analysis showed that this doctor died from EVD,” the minister said.
“As a result, several contacts have now been traced, registered and placed under surveillance. However, because the widow is now symptomatic, she has been quarantined pending the outcome of laboratory tests on her.”
Though the minister did not mention the name of the doctor, He however, said the wife of the doctor has been quarantined and 70 other contacts have since been traced and placed under surveillance in Port Harcourt.
He appealed to residents under surveillance in Port Harcourt to abide by the advice given to them by health officials. He urged other residents not to panic, saying the Nigerian government is in full control of the situation.
The diplomat treated by the doctor is believed to be among those who met Sawyer on his arrival in Lagos. He then flew to Port Harcourt where he took ill and was treated at an unnamed hotel in the Rivers state capital.
Sources said that the doctor’s hospital, Good Heart Hospital, as well as the hotel where he treated the diplomat, have been shut down, reports say.
The doctor’s death brings to six the number of people that have died of Ebola in Nigeria. The first five, including Mr. Sawyer, died in Lagos.