Skip to navigationSkip to content

Two sick passengers were tested for Ebola in Hong Kong and the UK

Medical staff take a blood sample from a suspected Ebola patient at the government hospital in Kenema, July 10, 2014.
Reuters/Tommy Trenchard
Precautions required.
By Adam Pasick
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Update: Both the Hong Kong and Birmingham patients have tested negative for Ebola.

Fears over West Africa’s Ebola outbreak have gone global following the death of a man in Lagos last week, as health authorities in Hong Kong and Birmingham, England, have quarantined passengers showing possible symptoms of the disease.

In Hong Kong, the state-run China Daily reported that a woman who recently returned from Africa with “symptoms similar to the Ebola virus”—which at the early stages include headache, fever, and stomach pain—is in a hospital isolation ward while she undergoes testing. Symptoms can take up to three weeks to materialize; the virus has a mortality rate of up to 90%.

In Birmingham, a man who arrived on a flight from Nigeria has also been taken to a hospital isolation unit after complaining of “feeling feverish.” The UK government is holding an emergency meeting on how to address the “new and emerging threat” of Ebola later today.

The heightened global alert comes after a man working for the Liberian government died of Ebola last week in Lagos, a megacity that is also an international air travel hub. As Quartz has reported, the presence of Ebola-exposed patients in Nigeria is especially worrying because of the city’s density and poor health care infrastructure. The country’s doctors are currently on strike over work conditions and pay.

The hospital where Patrick Sawyer—the lone confirmed Ebola victim in Lagos so far—died has been evacuated and is being decontaminated. Authorities have identified 59 people who had contact with Sawyer, but that does not include the passengers who shared two airplane flights with him (from Liberia to Ghana, then from Togo to Lagos); health workers are still trying to identify them. According to Canada’s CBC, witnesses said Sawyer “was vomiting and had diarrhea aboard at least one of his flights.”

Sawyer was an American citizen with a wife and three children living in the US. Decontee Sawyer told the Associated Press that her husband had been scheduled to fly to Minnesota in August.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.