by Hauwa Gambo
The intrigue around the entry of Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer into Nigeria, bringing with him the dreaded Ebola virus is not about to end, with new revelations delay about the scale of the deception, dereliction of duty and sloppiness that led his to Nigeria even though he was already suspected of carrying the virus.
Apparently, despite being under isolation and observation, the Liberian Deputy Finance Minister For Fiscal Affairs, Sebastian Muah, cleared Sawyer to travel to Nigeria an Economic Community of West African States convention happening in Calabar for an ECOWAS convention in Calabar.
The deputy minister admitted to this in a Facebook group, after his fellow citizens questioned his competence.
“I can confirm to you that he was advised by the Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health not to leave the country because he was under observation,” said Lewis Brown, who is the country’s information minister, to Premium Times. “It was regrettable that he left the country while being observed. We felt he had a duty to his colleagues to tell them that he was under observation for the disease. We also felt he had a duty to our country and yours (Nigeria) not to leave Liberia so as not to endanger the lives of others.”
On the question of why Muah approved the journey, he called it an “administrative slip” that occurred because government agencies had not began cooperating on the outbreak at the time.
“Before the Patrick Sawyer incident, we did not have that kind of cooperation,” he said. “We were not locking people under observation down. We were only bringing them to the isolation centre after they showed signs of the disease.It’s possible the health ministry was monitoring him (Mr. Sawyer) but the finance ministry did not know. It was a slip and we have learned from it regrettably.”
Liberia has now begun to upgrade its processes, he added: “Now the practice is to share the names of everyone under observation with all other agencies, including the airport, so they cannot leave the country.”