Senior doctor who treated Nigeria’s first Ebola patient dies of the disease

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 August, 2014, 9:17pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 August, 2014, 4:55am

A senior doctor who treated Nigeria's first Ebola patient has died, taking the death toll in Africa's most populous country to five, Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said.

Chukwu said on Tuesday that the female doctor was "the most senior who participated in the management of the [first Ebola] patient" in the country.

The disease arrived in Nigeria via Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer, 40, a Liberian finance ministry consultant who died in a Lagos hospital on July 25, five days after arriving at the city's airport visibly unwell on a flight from the Liberian capital, Monrovia. Nigeria's other fatalities have all been medical workers who treated Sawyer.

The World Health Organisation said on Tuesday that there were 15 cases of the virus in Nigeria, all in Lagos, which is sub-Saharan Africa's biggest city with more than 20 million people.

The global death toll from Ebola stands at 1,230, with the bulk of cases in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. In Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf imposed a nighttime curfew yesterday and quarantined two affected neighbourhoods.

Earlier, Liberia's Information Minister Lewis Brown announced the return of 17 missing Ebola patients, who had fled a medical facility in West Point on Saturday after it was attacked by club-wielding youths. Their disappearance had raised fears of a nightmare scenario of people with the highly contagious disease wandering the city.

Liberia has seen 466 deaths from 834 diagnosed cases. Guinea has recorded 543 cases and 394 deaths, and Sierra Leone 848 cases and 365 deaths.

But in a glimmer of hope, Brown said three doctors in Liberia who had been given the experimental US-made drug ZMapp were responding to the treatment.