The Many Woes Patrick Sawyer Brought Nigerians

When we talk about Ebola virus in
Nigeria, the first name anyone will think about is Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian
who brought in the virus to the country. Even though Sawyer is dead, the many
woes he left behind have been tormenting a part of Lagos State and have left
families sad with the loss of family members.
Take for instance, the 50-year
old nurse, a mother of four who attended to Sawyer as he walked into the
hospital has been confirmed dead, and two of her children who lived with her
have been evacuated from their home and have been isolated.

The Lagos taxi driver who also
drove Sawyer to the hospital has luckily been found and isolated too. The
driver first ran to his village for fear of being isolated, but after some
time, he was found and he is also currently been closely monitored. We also
have a case of the younger nurse who treated him, whom Nigerians have been
pleading that the same experimental drugs used for the two US doctors be used
on her and her colleagues as well.
What about the innocent woman who
came for a medical check-up, who was immediately attended to after Sawyer by
the late 50-year old woman?. We can only hope the list ends. 
Culled from ThisDay
have emerged about the first Nigerian to die of the deadly Ebola Virus and how
she was infected with the virus.  She was
a nurse at the First  Consultant
Hospital, Obalende, Lagos and was on duty on that fateful day when  Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian, was brought in
for treatment.
The veteran nurse said to be  in her 50s, was a mother of four,  who lost her husband just recently, making
her the breadwinner of her family.
She  was the nurse that received Sawyer on arrival
at the hospital. After initial checks were carried out on him and his
temperature was seen to be high, it was her that administered a drip on him
following a directive  from a 27-year old
medical officer who joined the hospital two months earlier after his
housemanship. These young medical officer also gave a helping hand in the
process of administering the drip on Sawyer.
Like any diligent and
compassionate caregiver would have done, she gave Sawyer all the care needed.
She even assisted him into the bathroom by helping him to hold his drip when he
requested to use the toilet. She would later attend to other patients who came
to the hospital for treatment at that period.
Sawyer had told the medical team
on duty that he had malaria. But event began to unfold in quick succession when
the result of the first series of tests conducted on Sawyer still did not show
any trace of malaria.
He still did not tell the
hospital personnel that he had Ebola – a deadly and contagious virus that kills
its carrier in a matter of days.
A second test was then carried
out, which also did not show any trace of malaria. That was when the
possibility that he may be suffering from a more serious ailment began to dawn
on the medical team.
When Sawyer was told of the
possibility that he may have been infected with Ebola virus, he was said to
have become enraged, and even demanded to leave, a request the hospital
Not even the intervention of an
ambassador from the Liberian embassy, who also requested that Sawyer should be
released because of his status as a top government official and a
diplomat,  would make the hospital release
him. Instead, the hospital took a proactive step by informing relevant
authorities of the presence of a suspected Ebola patient. That was the decisive
action that saved the nation from ‘a weaponised’ human being that would have
been unleashed on its population.
Sawyer could not be said to have
been oblivious of his health status before heading to Nigeria. Even at the
Liberian airport where he boarded an Asky Flight to Nigeria, he looked
ill,  avoided body contact with people at
the airport in his country, and at a point before boarding, he laid down on his
stomach – an indication that he was in great pain – as caught on the
surveillance camera.
Even on arrival in Lagos, the
Liberian was still terribly ill and was assisted out of the aircraft. Even
though his point of embankment was Liberia, a country in the throes of
Ebola,  no one thought he was a carrier of
a deadly virus. And within hours after his arrival, he ended up at First
Consultant Hospital.
It is believed that he may have
contracted the virus from his sister who was said to have died of the disease
not long ago. But what he did after that was unimaginable. He converted himself
to a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ and chose his target – Nigeria, the most
populous country  in Africa. Though, he
is dead, his arrival  now put the
nation’s 170 million people at the risk of this deadly virus.
The diligent nurse who was among
the first set of Nigerians that had primary contact with him  died days after Sawyer’s death. Two of her
children who were living with her have also been quarantined for close
Also, one of the patients she
attended to when Sawyer was on admission has tested positive to the virus. That
patient was the lady  whose presence at
the NNPC Clinic in Lagos for treatment led to the closure of the medical
facility last week.
The 27 year- old medical officer
that attended to Sawyer has also tested positive to Ebola virus and he is among
the eight Nigerians that have tested positive to the deadly virus, seven of
whom are currently under close observation 
at the Mainland Infectious Diseases Hospital, Yaba.
Another nurse who was on duty on
that fateful day and who carried  out
checks on him has also tested positive to Ebola virus. She is among the nine
confirmed cases in the country, while 139 others are said to be under
But there are fears about how
feasible it would be to identify all secondary contacts. For instance, the
driver who conveyed Sawyer from the airport to First Consultant Hospital was
said to have ran to his village before he was later found and quarantined for
further observation.
Minister of Health, Prof.
Onyebuchi Chukwu, noted this while confirming that relevant authorities know
the whereabouts of all primary contacts, but “secondary contacts are much
more in number and knowing about them depends on information given by the
primary contact.”
There are also worries about the
dearth of care-givers at the quarantine center. It was gathered that only one
caregiver, who is a WHO official, is attending to the seven confirmed carriers
of the virus at the center, all of whom are said to be in a hall – a
development that showed that Nigeria was really not prepared for this kind of
an infectious disease outbreak.
Already President Goodluck
Jonathan has declared a national emergency 
and approved N1.9 billion special fund 
to combat the disease, while the minister of health has announced government’s
intention to provide insurance cover for those willing to be caregivers.

There are still some salient
posers which demand urgent anwers: Are we prepared for this kind of medical
emergency? How do we get proper and well equipped quarantine centers within the
shortest possible time?  How do we find
caregivers that would be willing to work at quarantine centers? And even if we
get caregivers, are they well trained to handle this kind of situation? At the
various ports of entry, should an Ebola infected person be identified  what measure should be taken immediately?

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