Thursday, August 14, 2014

On The Importance of Quarantine - Patrick Sawyer Avoided Bodily Contact But Still Infected Dozens

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It has been reported that a nurse, who had contact with Liberian Ebola victim Patrick Sawyer while he was in Hospital, fled quarantine in Lagos and went to her home in Enugu thereby putting 20 people at risk.

In the case of Patrick Sawyer, though he was supposed to be under surveillance because his sister had died of Ebola, he did not need to escape quarantine. The high-ranking ECOWAS staff was cleared to travel by his friend, who is a deputy minister in Liberia.

Sawyer felt he would not transmit the virus by simply avoiding bodily contact with people though he knew he could be ill with Ebola when he boarded the flight to Nigeria.

According to a  Liberian newspaper, which saw CCTV footage recorded at Monrovia Airport, Mr. Sawyer sat alone all through the time he was boarding the flight and avoided bodily contact with other passengers who were close to him at the boarding gate in Monrovia.

According to the paper, Sawyer looked “terribly ill” and wore a “sad countenance" before he boarded the 20 July Asky Airline plane to Lagos. Apparently overtaken by “excruciating pain”at one point, he laid flat on his stomach on the floor in the corridor of the airport.

Unfortunately, Mr. Sawyer became severely ill on the plane and was taken to First Consultant Hospital, Obalende, from the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos. He died there on 24 July.

For some yet unclear reason, Sawyer and his highly placed friends in the Liberian government were more concerned about ensuring he got to the Calabar conference.

First Consultant Hospital also issued a statement confirming that it had resisted huge pressure from Sawyer himself and from Liberian government officials who wanted him to be discharged, and claimed he had a crucial role to play in that talkshop.

But no matter the reasons they felt they had, nobody is indispensable, and Ebola is a more terrible illness than some people give it credit for.

Once symptoms have begun to show, Ebola is highly contagious and dead bodies are even worse. One may think it is OK for them to avoid quarantine, but they are only placing their loved ones and other people in danger.

There were reports that Patrick Sawyer was hoping to come to America and join his family after the conference. Imagine his beautiful wife and little children put in harm's way?

Even now, two people are dead, and dozens infected, because of his wrong decisions and the fact that he was aided by those who did not take his illness seriously enough.

This should serve as a lesson to everyone on how important quarantine is.

Please, if you feel any symptoms of Ebola, save those around you and turn yourself in to be tested. If for any reason you have come in contact with someone with Ebola, allow yourself to be quarantined. If you know anyone who could be infected, call the relevant authorities and have them checked out.

It is for your good and for those of those who care for you.

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