Nigerian officials confirmed two new cases of Ebola on Friday, bringing the number of people who have been stricken with the disease in Africa's most populous nation to 14. Five have died, five have recovered and four are in isolation and being treated.
Onyebuchi Chukwu, Nigeria's health minister, said the two new cases are the spouses of medical workers — a man and a woman — who took care of Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian American who brought Ebola to Nigeria in July. Sawyer was hospitalized on arrival in the Lagos airport from Liberia but was not immediately quarantined. He later died.
Even with the new cases, Nigeria has been more successful than some other West African countries in containing the outbreak, thanks to rigorous monitoring and contact tracing. "We have been able to close down the epidemic, control it, and we are not letting down our guard," Chukwu said in a telephone interview.
The new patients, who were under surveillance for 15 days before displaying symptoms, are the first cases involving people who didn't have direct contact with Sawyer. A total of 213 people in Nigeria are being closely watched for any signs of the disease. They are confined to their homes and subject to daily checkups from health teams. Their families have been briefed extensively on how to recognize symptoms and avoid transmission.
The outbreak continues to spread elsewhere in West Africa, with 142 more cases recorded, bringing the new total to 2,615 with 1,427 deaths, the World Health Organization said Friday. Most of the cases are in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.