Ebola outbreak: 'We need help, serious help' in Sierra Leone

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Media captionMohammad Barrie lost a friend to Ebola: ''We talked on the phone, but now his phone is switched off''

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".

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.

Mohammad Barrie's story:

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 so that makes life so boring right now for us.

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption People in Sierra Leone shun contact in a bid to end the Ebola epidemic

[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

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Media captionTulip Mazumdar reports from Freetown where she witnessed a simulation of a safe burial for an Ebola victim
  • 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

Ebola basics

How Ebola attacks

Where virus has hit - in maps

Uncertainty over figures

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.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Health workers disinfect a home in Port Loko where Mr Barrie's friend died of Ebola

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.

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