Health workers death toll mounts in West Africa as Ebola spreads
LAGOS, Nigeria (UPDATED) – Nigeria on Sunday, August 31, confirmed a fresh case of Ebola in a doctor whose husband died from the virus, adding to a growing list of healthcare workers in west Africa hit by the epidemic.
The woman's husband was also a doctor who died in the city of Port Harcourt on August 22 after treating a patient that had contact with the Liberian man who brought the virus to Nigeria in late July.
She was in stable condition at an isolation unit in the financial capital, Lagos, said Sampson Parker, the health commissioner of Rivers State, of which Port Harcourt is the capital.
Nigeria's medics have paid a heavy price in the outbreak: of the six people who have died from the disease in Africa's most populous nation, two have been doctors and two others nurses.
Another doctor and a pharmacist were put into isolation at a unit outside Port Harcourt, Parker said.
"They have not been confirmed (as having Ebola) and we are awaiting the result of investigation," he told a news conference.
The World Health Organization has voiced concern about the "unprecedented" number of healthcare workers hit by the Ebola outbreak. More than 120 health workers have died and over 240 others infected so far.
The disease has killed a total of 1,552 people and infected 3,062 as of August 26, according to WHO figures. (READ: TIMELINE: Ebola, a ruthless killer.)
In Guinea, where 430 people have died in all, nurses told Agence France-Presse they lacked basic medical equipment to treat patients and had even bought items such as gloves and protective clothing themselves.d
In Senegal, doctors were treating a young Guinean man who became the country's first confirmed case of the disease. He was said to be in a "satisfactory" condition in hospital on Saturday, August 30.
The case lends credence to fears that the hemorrhagic fever, for which there is currently no vaccine, is spreading rapidly.
Stockholm authorities on Sunday said a suspected case of Ebola had been discovered in the Swedish capital. A local health specialist told Agence France-Presse the patient was from an African country and had arrived in Sweden a few days ago.
At current infection rates, the WHO fears it could take six to nine months and at least $490 million (373 million euros) to bring under control, by which time over 20,000 people could be affected.
In Liberia, which has been hardest-hit by the outbreak with 694 deaths, the government has denied permission for any crew to disembark from ships docking at any of the country's four ports.
Medical screening of passengers was also causing long delays at Monrovia's international airport, but a 21-day quarantine thrown around the city's West Point neighborhood was lifted on Saturday, August 30.
Air travel to west Africa has been badly hit by the disease. Eight of the 11 international airlines serving Monrovia have suspended flights, including British Airways and Air France.
The WHO and the west African regional bloc ECOWAS have both called for travel bans to be lifted, saying medical screening should identify at-risk passengers instead. (READ:WHO Vital to resume flights to Ebola-hit countries.)
The Ebola crisis has also cast doubt over a number of international football fixtures involving the worst-hit countries, with qualifying beginning next week for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
Sierra Leone, where 422 people have died so far, named a 20-man squad consisting entirely of foreign-based players for its matches against Ivory Coast and the DR Congo.
Ivory Coast's government has refused to allow the game to be played in Abidjan and not announced an alternative venue. The Ivorians risk forfeiting the match if they fail to show up.
Ebola-linked restrictions have led to sporadic violence in recent weeks. In Guinea, 55 people were injured in Guinea's second-largest city N'Zerekore after two days of protests this week over a government-imposed curfew.
The WHO has credited public health campaigns, especially in Guinea and Nigeria, for limiting the transmission of Ebola.
Guinea-Bissau, currently Ebola-free, on Saturday announced a national hygiene drive, with the cleaning and disinfection of public places on the last Saturday of every month.
Nigeria, however, has seen its hopes of containing the virus dashed with the outbreak in its oil-producing hub, 435 kilometers (270 miles) east of Lagos.
The city is home to a number of global oil and gas majors. Anglo-Dutch giant Shell and France's Total said this week that the arrival of Ebola has not affected operations.
Chevron said it, too, was closely monitoring developments and implementing "precautionary measures" for its work force. – Rappler.com