Via allAfrica.com, an opinion piece in ThisDay: The Avoidable Import of Ebola From Liberia. Excerpt:
Nearly two weeks after a traumatic Ebola scare in Nigeria that has gotten everyone in the country agitated, it was discovered last week that the crisis could have been prevented if the relevant authorities had done their jobs.
The late Patrick Sawyer, who brought the disease to Nigeria, was said to be under surveillance in Liberia. He broke quarantine regulations to board the Asky Airline flight from Monrovia that brought him to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos. At the airport in Monrovia and on the flight to Nigeria, the former consultant for the Liberian Ministry of Finance had, reportedly, felt terrible pain in his body and manifested clear signs of the Ebola disease.
Yet, he arrived Lagos on July 23, and was, allegedly, helped out of the plane by ECOWAS and airport officials before being rushed to First Consultant Medical Centre, Obalende, where he died two days later.
Sawyer, whose sister was also said to have died of the Ebola virus, was to attend an ECOWAS convention in Calabar. What has emerged from the whole saga is that Sawyer knew he was infected with Ebola and the airport authorities in Monrovia, who must have watched his "strange behaviour" at the airport in a country where Ebola infection was reaching epidemic proportions, also knew he could be manifesting symptoms of the disease.
The officials of Asky Airline, too, were in a position to suspect that Sawyer had the Ebola virus. But they were certainly too eager to drop him off in Nigeria to think of any precautionary measures.
Back home, the relevant airport authorities failed to take Sawyer through necessary checks to confirm the state of his health before allowing him to be taken to the hospital where he died. Had port health officials been deployed to conduct a screening on Sawyer when he came down from the aircraft with the signs of illness he was said to be manifesting, the country would have been saved the calamitous import from Liberia.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended all operations of Asky Airline in Nigeria, and it has started the screening of foreign passengers coming into the country for the Ebola virus. But these actions are coming too late, after the sorrowful consequences of negligence on the part of the Nigerian civil aviation authorities.
Of the seven persons who were said to have manifested Ebola symptoms following direct contact with Sawyer, from the airport in Lagos to the hospital, one - the nurse who treated him - has died. Several others who were equally involved in the chain of events between the airport and hospital are reported to be down with Ebola symptoms.
Minister of Health Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu described the occurrence of Ebola in Nigeria as a case of "viral terrorism." The actions of Sawyer, the Liberian airport authorities, Asky Airline, and the Nigerian civil aviation authorities show every indication of willful sabotage and unpardonable negligence.
But the federal and state governments in Nigeria also failed in their responsibility to enlighten the public about the disease in good time. Considering the fact that many foreign residents of countries within the West African sub-region, where Ebola has killed nearly 1,000 persons, are Nigerians, the Nigerian government ought to have embarked on early enlightenment measures to guard against the spread of the disease. But the government waited until the reports of fatalities before taking action.
We certainly seem to have enough evidence of negligence on the part of all concerned, but "wilful terrorism" is absurd. Patrick Sawyer was clearly not in his right mind, whether from extreme denial of his condition or from derangement owing to Ebola itself.