A sailor from Sierra Leone has told the BBC how Ebola has robbed his country of joy and says the international community should send “serious help”.
Story by Tulib Mazumar
Though Mohammad Barrie’s own family has so far been spared the disease, he lost a friend to it, only realising he had died because his phone was switched off.
Despite the potential dangers Mr Barrie continues to work, ferrying passengers from the capital Freetown to Lunghi airport but he told the BBC’s Tulip Mazumdar many of his friends have lost their jobs as businesses close to avoid the epidemic.
It is very different in Freetown because we now look like strangers to ourselves. No touch, no body contact, we just push and move away from each other because the [advice] is going about: “Do not touch, do not have contact” because that way we will continue to spread the disease. So we follow the rules that makes life so boring right now for us.
[Ebola] makes everyone of us in this country, especially Freetown, very suspicious thinking. We do not want to get contact because the disease is so deadly when you get contact with it, in a few hours you will be gone. We are afraid of the disease.
It affects me because I am a family person. I have a wife, a child and my sister too. To take care of them is not easy. I am glad I am working for Duncan Marine Group right now because we are not closed for this Ebola epidemic. But some of my colleagues, my friends, they are now out of a job.
Ebola: Stopping the spread
Avoid direct contact with sick patients as the virus is spread through contaminated body fluids
Wear protective cover for eyes
Clothing and clinical waste should be incinerated and any medical equipment that needs to be kept should be decontaminated
People who recover from Ebola should abstain from sex or use condoms for three months
Sick and tired
We do not go to our normal entertainment centres like going to the cinema, watch football, going to the nightclubs, enjoy ourselves. Everything put to stop just for this Ebola epidemic so we are sick and tired of that.
I thank God for my own family. No victims, nobody died. But some of my friends outside I heard, but not confirmed, I heard one of my friends died.
One of my friends that lives in the provinces, near Port Loko died but I did not confirm it whether that is true or not. But up to now I had not spoken to him but I realised it is true because we talk on the phone but now his phone is switched off.
It is very difficult. It is very, very difficult for us because we don’t know what to do either, we just need a response from the international world. To the international world I want to say this: We need, we need help, serious help, emergency.
We need people like medical doctors to come to this country to settle this outbreak, to settle this outbreak for us.
Because we do not know where to start and we do not know when we are going to end it. So we need, I’m emphasising on this, we need medical teams, professionals to come to the country to end this outbreak. To get out from this Ebola heartbreak.
However, the World Health Organization’s emergency committee is holding talks to discuss the Ebola epidemic.
The meeting in Geneva is examining screening measures at borders and considering whether stricter travel regulations should be put in place.
New rules in the US require travellers from the worst affected countries to arrive at one of five airports.
The known death toll is now 4,877 – a rise of 322 since the WHO’s last report five days ago.
Most of the victims died in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Meanwhile, first batches of an experimental vaccine against Ebola are due to arrive to Switzerland.
The vaccine, developed by Canada’s public health agency, combines fragments of Ebola with a non-fatal virus and could trigger the immune system to produce the necessary antibodies.
Cuba is the biggest single provider of healthcare professionals helping tackle the outbreak
However, the BBC’s Imogen Foulkes in Geneva says a fully tested and approved vaccine is not expected to become available for months or possibly years.