Koreans in Lagos told to flee to escape Ebola

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Koreans in Lagos told to flee to escape Ebola

Government officials are flying to Nigeria to exhort all Koreans in the capital city of Lagos to come home to escape the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said it will dispatch a field team of two medics and two foreign affairs officials today to Nigeria to assess the situation and assist Koreans who may fall ill.

But the team’s main focus will be to persuade all 300 Korean nationals in the Lagos region to return home.

“Along with inspection of quarantine centers and medical clinics there, we will meet with every single overseas Korean in Lagos and appeal to them to return to Korea,” said a Centers for Disease Control official yesterday.

There are around 700 Koreans living and working in Nigeria, but other regions have been decreed safe from the Ebola outbreak. So far, all 12 Ebola patients in Nigeria are from the Lagos region. They are all connected to a Liberian-American patient who contracted the disease in Liberia and then flew to Lagos before succumbing to the disease.

It is unclear how many Koreans residing in Nigeria will actually pack their bags and head home. Besides a group of construction workers, most overseas Koreans living in Lagos work in the travel industry.

If a Korean refuses to return home, government officials plan to call them continuously to monitor their health. Korea has not sent an inspection team to the three other countries with worse outbreaks of Ebola: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. There are a total of 160 Koreans living in those countries.

As of yesterday, there have been 1,963 patients who contracted the virus through physical contact with blood or other bodily fluids from infected people or animals. A total of 1,066 people have died.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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