Nigeria’s Minister of Health Onyebuchi Chukwu said medical workers put 271 people under surveillance for Ebola. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with 174 million people.
Chukwu said 72 people in Lagos, Nigeria’s most populated city and Africa’s second fastest growing city, and 199 in Port Harcourt are under surveillance. The two cities are 380 miles apart. He also said the city of Enugu is Ebola-free. A nurse who was in contact with Liberian-American Dr. Patrick Sawyer, the man who brought Ebola to Nigeria, went to Enugu to visit family. But the remaining six people she was in contact with tested negative for the disease.
“There is nobody under surveillance in Enugu now and no case of EVD [Ebola Virus Disease] in Enugu State,” he said. “As at Aug. 31, 278 contacts in Lagos state have completed the 21-day surveillance, and have been discharged. In Enugu, all the six identified contacts have completed the 21-day observation period and have been discharged.”
Nigeria’s Ebola count is at sixteen. Lagos had thirteen cases with seven discharged. However, five people died in the city. An Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) staff member was infected in Lagos, but escaped to Port Harcourt.
“The three confirmed cases not treated in Lagos comprise a surviving primary contact of the index case (Patrick Sawyer), an ECOWAS Commission staff; a private medical practitioner and a female patient,” he said. “An ECOWAS Commission staff who became symptomatic, evaded surveillance in Lagos, travelled to Port Harcourt and infected his attending physician.”
As of now, the Ebola cases have only appeared on the coast of Nigeria. There are no confirmed cases in northeast Nigeria, where the radical Islamic group Boko Haram threatens residents. The Boko Haram threat has triggered a deluge of migration across the border to Cameroon, as tens of thousands flee the jihadist group. Most recently, over 215 youths fled to Cameroon after Boko Haram terrorized the town of Gamboru for three days. In August, rumors surfaced that Ebola had been detected in Douala, a border town in Cameroon, but Cameroon officials quickly denied the allegations. Yet, due to Nigerians in Cameroon and the spread of the disease, officials are preparing for an outbreak.
“With regards to our country Cameroon, no suspected case has been reported until [this] date,” said Minister of Health Andre Mama Fouda. “But in preparation for a possible emergence of this disease, surveillance is strengthened in all the health districts at the borders, particularly at the level of all the health posts, airports and seaports.”