Africa’s deadliest ever Ebola epidemic in West Africa has officially claimed well over 600 lives, and unofficially many more.
Following the death of a Liberian government worker two days ago who collapsed in the international airport of Nigeria’s 20-million megacity, Lagos announced a “red alert” with Nigeria clamping down into a quasi-quarantine state, sending specialists to airports and seaports for containment.
In Sierra Leone, where many have more faith in traditional medicine, this has culminated in crowds gathered outside clinics and hospitals to protest against what they see as a conspiracy, in some cases clashing with police as they threatened to burn down the buildings and remove the patients.
One of Liberia’s most high-profile doctors has died of Ebola, officials said Sunday, and an American physician was being treated for the deadly virus, highlighting the risks facing health workers trying to combat an outbreak that has killed more than 670 people in West Africa — the largest ever recorded.
A second American, a missionary working in the Liberian capital, was also taken ill and was being treated in isolation there, said the pastor of a North Carolina church that sponsored her work.
Dr. Samuel Brisbane, a top Liberian health official, was treating Ebola patients at the country’s largest hospital, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center in Monrovia, when he fell ill. He died on Saturday. A Ugandan doctor died earlier this month.
The American physician, 33-year-old Dr. Kent Brantly, was in Liberia helping to respond to the outbreak that has killed 129 people nationwide when he fell ill, according to the North Carolina-based medical charity, Samaritan’s Purse.
He was receiving intensive medical care in a Monrovia hospital and was in stable condition, according to a spokeswoman for the aid group, Melissa Strickland.
The American missionary, Nancy Writebol, was gravely ill and in isolation in Monrovia.
Samaritan’s Purse spokeswoman Melissa Strickland says Dr Brantly’s wife and children had been living with him in Africa but are currently in the US.
The epidemic has a mortality rate of between 60% and 90%.