Patrick Sawyer died from Ebola in Lagos, Nigeria, on July 24, 2014. He flew from Monrovia, Liberia to Lagos on July 20 and was ill upon arrival. Sawyer, age 40, was a consultant with the Liberian Finance Ministry.
Those are the confirmed facts. Sawyer was the first Ebola case in Nigeria and its first fatality. As of Aug. 9, the World Health Organization reports 12 additional Ebola cases and one additional Ebola death. All the illnesses are linked to exposure to Sawyer in a Lagos hospital.
UPDATE August 12, 2014 19:20 EDT :
“The ECOWAS Commission announces with deep regret the passing of a staff member of its Lagos Liaison Office, Mr. Jatto Asihu Abdulqudir, aged 36.
Mr. Abdulqudir, a Protocol Assistant was among those who assisted the Liberian delegate to a regional meeting Mr. Patrick Sawyer, who died from the Ebola Virus Disease at a Lagos hospital on 25th July 2014. Mr. Abdulqudir had been under quarantine following that sad incident.”
It appears that Sawyer visited his sick sister on July 6, the day before she died. The Daily Mail reports that Princess Nyuennyue, 27, died of Ebola but was not tested until after her death. It is not clear if Sawyer knew what his sister died from although there are media reports that he was told before his trip.
Front Page Africa reported Aug. 12 that:
“the government of Liberia and a senior official at the Ministry of Finance ignored a major red flag by ArcelorMIttal which had warned its employees about the likelihood that Patrick Sawyer, a Ministry of Finance consultant, who also doubled as a consultant at the company, was infected with the deadly Ebola Virus prior to his travel to Lagos, Nigeria, where the deadly virus has now claimed the lives of 2 health care workers who came in contact with Sawyer with more than 40 others quarantined.”
The news report also noted that the Liberian President has spoken about the situation.
“Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf expressed disappointment in Sawyer’s behavior to travel after attending to his sick sister, remarking that he acted with disrespect and ignored the advice from health officials thereby placing the health of Nigerians at risk.
The president angrily stated on Independence Day, July 26 “In another event, one of our compatriots met his untimely death and put to risk others across borders because of indiscipline and disrespect for the advisory that had been given by health workers”.”
The Los Angeles Times notes that Patrick Sawyer was due to travel to the United States a short time after his death.
“His wife, Decontee Sawyer, said that she had spoken to him a week earlier and that he had made plans to be stateside in early August to celebrate the birthdays of two of his three young daughters. She said the couple had been separated.”
Both Sawyer and his wife had emigrated to the United States and became citizens. Sawyer returned to Liberia in 2008.
It remains unclear how the 12 Nigerians became infected. Front Page Africa reports that he denied to hospital workers that he had been in contact with anyone with Ebola. The story reports that he became enraged when told that the doctors were going to test him for Ebola. He forcibly removed his IV and his pants and urinated on staff.
He was also in contact with the Liberian government, it appears, and Front Page Africa reported that the hospital received political pressure from the Liberians and from the Economic Community Of West African States. Sawyer was expected to participate in the ECOWAS convention in Calabar, Nigeria. There seem to have been some active plans to fly Sawyer back to Monrovia that never came to fruition.
Should the death toll in Lagos continue to climb, Patrick Sawyer may be remembered by history as the Ebola killer, a serial killer. Should the Ebola outbreak spread from the hospital into Lagos, Africa’s most populous city, he could become one of history’s worst mass murderers.