No go: How Paul Sawyer’s Ebola death is making air travel in Nigeria & Togo hell

by Kolapo Olapoju
airportIn response to the death of a Liberian national as a result of the Ebola virus, health authorities in Nigeria have swept into action in order to prevent the spread of one of the world’s deadliest diseases.

Fears have been raised over the fact that, if the traveller from Liberia got on an international flight, there are possibilities that other passengers could be victims too and take the disease beyond Africa.

Officials in Togo, where the sick man’s flight had a stopover, also went on high alert after learning that Ebola could possibly have spread to a fifth country.

Head of Ebola medical efforts in Liberia for aid organization Samaritan’s Purse, Dr Lance Plyler, said that there is no guarantee Ebola won’t travel by aeroplane. “Unfortunately the initial signs of Ebola imitate other diseases, like malaria or typhoid”.

Speaking on the possibility of the spread of Ebola in Nigeria, Plan International’s Disaster Response and Preparedness Head, Dr Unni Krishnan, said; “Lagos is completely different from other cities because we’re talking about millions of people”. An outbreak in Lagos, Africa’s mega-city where many live in cramped conditions, could be a major disaster.

Nearly 50 other passengers were on board the flight that conveyed Patrick Sawyer, the Ebola victim, to Nigeria. A Ministry of Health employee said that these passengers were being monitored for signs of Ebola but were not being kept in isolation.

Ebola already had caused some 672 deaths across a wide swath of West Africa before the Nigeria case was announced.

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