Patrick Sawyer

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Patrick Oliver Sawyer (c.1974 - 24 July 2014) was a Liberian-American lawyer who was notable for being the index case for the introduction of Ebola virus disease into Nigeria during the West African Ebola epidemic. Sawyer was a naturalized U.S. citizen who lived in Coon Rapids, Minnesota.[1] He has been variously described as working for the Liberian Ministry of Finance[1] and for the mining company ArcelorMittal as their national manager for public health.[2][3] He was aged 40 at the time of his death.[4]

Ebola infection and death[edit]

On 9 July 2014, Sawyer informed ArcelorMittal management at the Buchanan office that he had been exposed to the Ebola virus.[3] They referred his case to the Liberian Ministry of Health for observation.[3]

However, Sawyer utilized an upcoming conference in Calabar, Cross River, Nigeria to petition the Liberian Finance Ministry to attend as an "ambassador". His departure was approved. The Liberian government has apologized for the lack of communication between offices and for not listing Sawyer's name at the airport.[citation needed]

On 20 July 2014, Sawyer flew via ASKY Airlines from James Spriggs Payne Airport in Monrovia, Liberia to Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Nigeria's largest city Lagos, with a stopover at Lomé in Togo.[5][6] He was subsequently described as having appeared to be "terribly ill" when he left Monrovia.[6]

He collapsed upon arriving at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja. A protocol officer of ECOWAS was there to greet him. The officer drove Sawyer in an ECOWAS pool car to First Consultant Hospital, Obalende, Lagos, where he later died on 24 July.[7]

In response, the Nigerian government observed all of Sawyer's contacts for signs of infection and increased surveillance at all entry points to the country.[8] On 6 August, the Nigerian health minister told reporters, "Yesterday the first known Nigerian to die of Ebola was recorded. This was one of the nurses that attended to the Liberian. The other five [newly confirmed] cases are being treated at an isolation ward."[9]

It was later reported that at that time he flew, Sawyer was already under surveillance for Ebola infection, but had been cleared by the Finance Ministry of the Liberian government to leave for an ECOWAS conference in Calabar, Cross River State.[2]

On 19 August, it was reported that the doctor who treated Sawyer, Ameyo Adadevoh, had also died of Ebola disease. Adadevoh was posthumously praised for preventing Sawyer from leaving the hospital at the time of diagnosis, thereby playing a key role in curbing the spread of the virus in Nigeria. [10][11][12][13][14]

Aftermath[edit]

The outbreak brought into the country by Sawyer resulted in 19 confirmed cases of Ebola infection and eight deaths. As of October 2014, the Nigerian Ebola outbreak is regarded as having been effectively contained. On October 20, 2014, Nigeria was announced as Ebola-free by the WHO, following two incubation periods without any further reports of infection.[15][16]

Sawyer's travel to Nigeria provoked a lot of anger in Nigeria towards the Liberian authorities who allowed him to fly out of Liberia despite being unwell.[17] First Consultant Hospital leadership described Sawyer's behavior in ward as a "deceptive" and "intentional" attempt to spread the infection as widely as possible — Sawyer denied any exposure to Ebola and mobilized diplomatic pressure on the hospital to discharge him from the hospital in spite of showing severe symptoms.[18]

There was also great suspicion towards American authorities as Patrick Sawyer was an American. Some believed his arrival was not an accident, but a deliberate attempt to infect the Nigerian population. Especially when direct requests came from the Liberian authorities to release him from quarantine in hospital despite him clearly being ill.[19]

Sawyer's case and the successful containment of the outbreak by Adadevoh and other medical staff form the basis of the 2016 Nigerian drama thriller film 93 Days.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Jacque Wilson (July 30, 2014). "Ebola fears hit close to home". CNN. Archived from the original on October 3, 2014. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Nicholas Ibekwe (12 August 2014). "Nigeria: Exclusive - How Liberian Govt Cleared Patrick Sawyer to Travel to Nigeria While Under Observation for Ebola". AllAfrica.com. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Michelle Madsen (3 September 2014). "ArcelorMittal Liberia health manager carried ebola to Nigeria". Steel First. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  4. ^ Christin Mai-Duc (July 29, 2014). "Suspected U.S. Ebola victim in Nigeria had planned to visit Minnesota". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on September 22, 2014. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  5. ^ Michael Daly (2014-07-30). "'He Could Have Brought Ebola Here': Minnesota Widow on Her Husband". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on 2014-09-22. Retrieved 2014-09-28.
  6. ^ a b Nicholas Ibekwe (August 7, 2014). "Video shows Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, was "terribly ill", possibly knew he had Ebola before traveling to Nigeria". The Premium Times. Archived from the original on October 21, 2014. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  7. ^ Nnenna Ibeh (2014-08-21). "Ebola: Lagos hospital which treated Patrick Sawyer to receive N4m". The Premium Times. Archived from the original on 2015-11-02. Retrieved 2014-09-28.
  8. ^ "Nigeria 'on red alert' over Ebola death in Lagos". BBC News. 26 July 2014. Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  9. ^ Mark, Monica (6 August 2014). "Ebola Outbreak: Nurse who Treated First Victim in Nigeria Dies". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 6 August 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  10. ^ Reuters (4 August 2014). "Lagos records second Ebola case in doctor who treated victim: Nigerian health minister". Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Dr Ameyo Adadevoh dies from Ebola virus infection". YNaija.com The Internet Newspaper for Young Nigerians. Archived from the original on 2014-08-21. Retrieved 2014-08-20.
  12. ^ "Ebola strikes at the heart of Nigeria: Ameyo, daughter of Kwaku Adadevoh, grand daughter of Herbert Macaulay dies". Thisday. Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  13. ^ "Tribute to Herbert Macaulay's Great-Granddaughter who died in service to Nigeria". The Cable. Archived from the original on 23 August 2014. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  14. ^ "Ebola kills doctor related to first African Anglican Bishop". Anglican News. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  15. ^ "Ebola contained in Nigeria, Senegal - US health officials". 30 September 2014. Archived from the original on 29 March 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  16. ^ "Nigeria is now free of Ebola virus transmission". 20 October 2014. Archived from the original on 22 April 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  17. ^ "'Nigerians still angry at my husband', Liberian's wife speaks out". 24 October 2014. Archived from the original on 27 October 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  18. ^ Ibekwe, Nicholas (2014-11-09). "How Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer, deliberately infected our staff with Ebola - First Consultant Hospital - Premium Times Nigeria". Retrieved 2020-03-14.
  19. ^ "How bureaucrats let Ebola spread to Nigeria". 14 April 2014. Archived from the original on 5 December 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  20. ^ Adegoke, Yemisi (2016-09-15). "The woman who saved her country from Ebola". CNN. Archived from the original on 2018-07-07. Retrieved 2018-08-18.