Deadly Ebola virus reaches Nigeria as West Africa death toll hits 660

Liberian man flies to Lagos and dies there, bringing recent toll from virus to 660

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 July, 2014, 1:53pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 July, 2014, 5:23am

An Ebola outbreak that has left more than 660 people dead across West Africa has spread to the continent's most populous nation after a Liberian man with a high fever vomited aboard a flight to Nigeria and then died there.

The 40-year-old man had recently lost his sister to Ebola in Liberia, health officials there said. It was not immediately clear how he managed to board a flight, but he was moved into an isolation ward upon arrival in Lagos on Tuesday and died on Friday.

Nigerian Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said it was the first case of Ebola to be confirmed in Nigeria since the current outbreak emerged this year. The disease has already hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

"All ports of entry into Nigeria, including airports, seaports and land borders, are placed on red alert," he said. "Ministry of Health specialists have been positioned in all entry points. Active surveillance has also been stepped up."

Authorities were investigating anyone who might have come into contact with the deceased, Chukwu said.

"We have already got in touch with all the passengers," he said. "We are monitoring and investigating."

Liberia's chief medical officer, Dr Bernice Dahn, identified the Ebola victim as a government official.

He flew to Nigeria to attend an international conference. Blood tests for Ebola returned positive from the Lagos University Teaching Hospital later on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, residents of Kenema in eastern Sierra Leone threw stones at a hospital and a police station, spurred by a rumour that health workers were using Ebola as a ruse to kill people and collect body parts.

The rumour was spread by a mentally ill former nurse, now in custody, who went to the city's main market and told people Ebola was a hoax, police assistant inspector general Karrow Kamara said. Police had to use tear gas to stop the crowd from destroying the Kenema Government Hospital, he said.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg