by Hauwa Gambo
New reports have emerged indicated that the Livberian government knew its citizen, Patrick Sawyer had the Ebola virus from his late sister before leaving to Nigeria, but still cleared him to travel to Nigeria for an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) conference.
According to Premium Times, it can “authoritatively report” this after seeing documents that that showed his employers, ArcelorMittal, an iron mining company, had suspended and isolated him from work after his sister died on 8 July.
The company also issued an internal memo to staff of the company informing them that Mr. Sawyer had been referred to the Liberian Health ministry for testing and close observation.
“A family member of an ArcelorMittal Liberia employee died on Tuesday, July 8th, in Monrovia due to a confirmed case of the Ebola virus,” the July 11 edition of Satellite, an internal newsletter of ArcelorMittal Liberia, said. “The employee had minimal contact with the victim, at the state where the virus was infectious.
“Doctors say the risk of potential transfer to any member of the ArcelorMittal staff or contractors is very low. The employee has submitted to the Ministry of Health for a medical examination for possible Ebola infection, and has also requested the Ministry of Health to make the result available to ArcelorMittal Liberia and its close affiliates.
“There is no evidence to suggest that the employee has been infected. Under the Ministry of Health guidelines, the employee is being monitored on a daily basis and will continue to do so for a period of 21 days. During this time the employee will be absent from work.”
The July 25 edition of the Satellite, which announced Mr. Sawyer’s death, reads:
“Patrick was last at the Buchanan site (of AncelorMittal) on 9th July when he informed us about the death of his sister. Having informed us of this news, Patrick was submitted to the Ministry of Health for a medical observation and isolation and requested not to return to work until he had passed through the incubation period. He has not been at the Buchanan site or in any ArcelorMittal office since that time.”
But despite being under isolation and observation for the deadly disease, the Liberian Government, through its Deputy Finance Minister For Fiscal Affairs, Sebastian Muah, cleared Mr. Sawyer to travel to Nigeria for an ECOWAS convention in Calabar.
The deputy minister personally admitted approving the trip in an online discussion forum, where some Liberian citizens raised questions about his action and competence.
It would be recalled that the Liberian government has apologised to the Nigerian government for Sawyer bringing Ebola into the country – giving us our first confirmed case of Ebola when he died at First Consultant Hospital in Obalende, Lagos on 24 July.