The elder sister of Justina Ejelonu, the nurse who died from Ebola on Thursday morning in Lagos after she contracted it from a Liberian Ebola patient(Patrick Sawyer) in First Consultant Hospital where she worked has said that she spoke with her younger sister two days before her demise.
Mrs. Onyinyechi Anugwolu (nee Ejelonu) told Punch she was surprised when she came across the news of Justina’s death on the facebook, a day after they had a telephone conversation and she told her she was in good health.
“I spoke to Obioma two days ago (Wednesday). She said, ‘My sister, I am better now. Don’t worry, I am okay.’ I felt she was doing better. I didn’t know she was going to die.
“It was through Facebook that I got to know that my sister was dead. Nobody from the state government called us. Nobody from where she worked called us either. It was from blogs on the Internet that I heard the story.”
Anugwolu described her sister as a hardworking lady, who died while on active duty.
“The day she met the infected Liberian was her first day at work at that hospital. She just got that job. She was the one that called me and ‘gisted’ me about Ebola and told us how she met and attended to Patrick Sawyer. Later on, she told me she was having fever. I asked her to go back to the hospital so that she would be tested and she did so that night. She was moved back into the hospital that night as she started throwing up and I kept in touch with her until the last day.”
Anugwolu bemoaned the stigmatization of her family following the unfounded rumour that Justina was the nurse who fled from the quarantine centre in Lagos and came down to Enugu to see her family.
While describing the story as false, Anugwolu said she had not seen her sister for over eight months, saying her sister had not visited her in Enugu for a long time.
“We have been stigmatised. Some people called some of my colleagues in the office and told them my sister, Obioma, was the one that came down to Enugu. They said she ran to her sister’s house in Trans Ekulu and also mentioned my office name, Women for Women International.
“Apart from that, my parents are also being stigmatised. The story going round in the village is that my parents came to Lagos to see Obioma and contracted the disease as well. My parents have been staying with me. I invited my father to come over to Enugu when this story about a nurse being infected with EVD broke on the internet.”
Anugwolu insisted that none of her siblings had any form of contact with her late sister; as such, they are not infected with the virus.
“My sister knew the implication. She was a nurse. She mistakenly and ignorantly got infected and she knew the disease was deadly. There was no way she would have run to us in Enugu, knowing that the disease is highly contagious. Once bitten, twice shy. She wouldn’t have wanted us to get infected. That is why I am saddened with this rumour that she came to see me in Enugu,” she said.
The late Ejelonu’s sister said she learnt about the news of the nurse that left the quarantine on the internet and was surprised when her sister was later described as the same nurse.
“I learnt the nurse has been taken back to Lagos and the 21 people she came in contact with were also taken to Lagos. I also heard that 15 people out of them have been cleared. I was not among the people. I think it is better the name of the nurse is disclosed now so that my name and that of my family would be cleared,” she said.