"ECOWAS is sad that the disease is spreading like a wildfire in our community," ECOWAS Vice President Toga McIntosh announced Thursday in Nigerian capital Abuja. "We took a decision to suspend all meetings that will bring us together from our various countries," he told a gathering of diplomats convened by the Nigerian government to aid multinational discussion on the deadly virus that has claimed hundreds of lives. "Let's watch this spread and let us see how this will go down, and then thereafter, we can see how we can proceed," added McIntosh. He asserted that the regional bloc would only meet "if the meeting is so essential and we are well guided." Ebola is a contagious disease for which there is no known treatment or cure. An estimated 932 persons have died since the latest outbreak in June, beginning from Liberia. It has now spread to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria - all ECOWAS member states. Ebola hit Nigeria through Patrick Sawyer, an infected Liberian who had come to the country on July 25 to attend an ECOWAS meeting in Calabar, in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta.
Sawyer came down with symptoms of the virus and was admitted at a hospital in the commercial city of Lagos, where he later died.
At least 70 people are believed to have had varied levels of contact with him.
McIntosh said the ECOWAS office in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial city where eight cases of Ebola, including two deaths, have been recorded - has been shut.
He said they have made a request to the Lagos government to fumigate the office, including toilets which might have been used by some ECOWAS staff who had met with Sawyer during his flight.
Ebola can be transmitted to humans from wild animals and also spreads through contact with the body fluids of an infected person or someone who has died of the disease.
Medical doctors say common symptoms of the tropical fever, which first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, include high fever and headaches, followed by bleeding from openings in the body.