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Quarantines declared in Nigeria over spread of deadly Ebola virus

People who had primary contact with Ebola victim Patrick Sawyer have been put under quarantine and medical surveillance.

In Liberia, a man reads a newspaper with headlines reading 'Gov't Takes More Measures Against Ebola, as fear about the virus spread in the city of Monrovia.
In Liberia, a man reads a newspaper with headlines reading 'Gov't Takes More Measures Against Ebola, as fear about the virus spread in the city of Monrovia.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

NIGERIA SAID TODAY it had quarantined two people who had “primary contact” with a man who died of Ebola in Lagos last week as west Africa battled to tame the deadliest ever outbreak of the virus.

Nigeria’s Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said “staff or persons who took care of him before the diagnosis” were in quarantine and 69 have been placed under medical surveillance.

Patrick Sawyer, a 40-year-old Liberian, died under quarantine in a private hospital in Lagos on Friday, sparking fears the deadly virus could spread to Africa’s most populous nation.

“We are tracking all those with primary contact with a view to deciding those who must be quarantined and those who will just remain under surveillance,” Chukwu said.

“As at today 69 are under surveillance and two quarantined,” he told reporters in Abuja, adding that “they will remain under the surveillance until a period of three weeks at least”.

Video: What exactly is the Ebola virus? >

West Africa’s Ebola-hit nations today imposed stringent new rules and agreed to launch a $100 million response plan to stop the spread of Ebola, which has so far killed nearly 730 people in the region.

Sierra Leone joined Liberia in launching far-reaching measures to contain the virus, including quarantining Ebola-striken areas and cancelling foreign trips by ministers.

Chukwu said that Nigeria has not closed its borders yet, but will apply the measure if “it becomes necessary”.

The Lagos hospital where the Ebola victim died said Thursday in a statement that the health institution has been temporarily shut down while the body had been burt according to WHO guidelines.

“In keeping with WHO guidelines, the hospital is shut down briefly as full decontamination exercise is currently in progress,” it said.

Spread by close contact with an infected person through bodily fluids such as sweat, blood and tissue, Ebola can fell victims within days, causing severe fever and muscle pain, vomiting and diarrhoea – and in some cases, organ failure and unstoppable bleeding.

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Advice for Irish travellers

In Ireland, the Tropical Medical Bureau is urging people to use their ‘common sense’ when travelling to Ireland from Ebola-infected areas.

The bureau said that while the risk of the disease reaching Ireland is small, anyone travelling from areas infected with the disease should be vigilant about their health and seek immediate medical assistance if they develop any symptoms.

“It is important that Dublin airport staff notice Ebola symptoms straight away and that patients with a high fever returning from an at-risk destination be urgently assessed,” said the bureau’s Dr Graham Fry.

- Additional reporting by Susan Ryan

Earlier: Sierra Leone declares “Stay at Home Day” in bid to curb Ebola >

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