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Ebola cases now 15, another doctor dead as authorities warn against euphoria

Published by Daily Trust on Fri, 29 Aug 2014

One doctor has died in Port Harcourt, after contracting Ebola from treating a diplomat who was in contact with Patrick Sawyer, the health ministry has said. His wife is being tested after showing symptoms and the results could come in as soon as late Thursday, nearly a week after her husband died last Friday. If positive, she could bring to 15, up from 13, the number of confirmed cases of the virus. She has been quarantined after showing symptoms, and another 70 people believed to have had contact with the late doctor or his wife have been put under surveillance for Ebola. The diplomat with ECOWAS evaded surveillance in Lagos in the late week of July and travelled to Port Harcourt. "We now understand he consulted with a doctor and was apparently treated for some symptoms," said Chukwu. "After four days, following a manhunt for him, he returned to Lagos by which time he was found to be without symptoms." "Even though he does not have Ebola but further laboratory tests indicate he had suffered Ebola," added Chukwu. Tracing Officials began tracing contacts on Saturday and a treatment team and mobile lab have moved into Port Harcourt yesterday, he added. "We will surely handle Port Harcourt, as we handled Enugu and Lagos," Chukwu said Thursday morning. He said the diplomat's case "would have been of no further interest since he had completed the 21 days of surveillance without any other issue, but for the fact that the doctor who treated him died last Friday." The doctor is believed to have died from the disease in the shortest period, sparking interest in further dynamics of the virus and its interactions with human immune system. "A lot has to be studied. There are things we know we might still learn about this disease." All the cases so far confirmed have been limited to people who had direct or indirect contact with Sawyer, prompting the health ministry's declaration on Tuesday that Nigeria had managed to contain the outbreak. But the health and information ministries have warned against media headlines that have given the impression that Nigeria is free of the virus, even though some patients are still on treatment or under surveillance. While media must not create panic, there's also "no need for euphoria" or complacency, said Chukwu. "We've contained this disease, but [it] is still with us, and until we discharge the last patient, we cannot say we are free of it." Information minister Labaran Maku said he was "disappointed" at the "outlandish headlines." He cited colleagues angling for a handshake convinced by media headlines that Ebola was over. He called the headlines "dangerous" in his appeal to news editors and journalists. "It has taken us back in terms of public awareness and education we need to enforce," cautioned Maku. "This is not the kind of story we can write with levity, because people coulf be in danger," he said. "Don't give people panic or any impression of euphoria that the disease is over."
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