Living with Ebola in Freetown: ‘It Feels Like the Whole Country Is in Quarantine’

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
By Paul Martin

Solomon Sogbandi

Since the first cases of Ebola were reported in March, life in Sierra Leone has changed beyond recognition.

So far, the World Health Organization has confirmed more than 5,200 Ebola cases in Sierra Leone alone and more than 13,700 across the world. More than 4,500 people have died of the disease — 1,500 in my home country.

Friends abroad often ask me what life is like here at the moment.

I can only describe it as horrifying.

Every morning, I wake up in my house in Freetown with the sound of the terrifying pictures and stories coming out of the TV and the radio. People are desperately trying, and in many cases failing, to get medical help that would make the difference between life and death. Doctors and nurses are at breaking point. Entire communities are quarantined, lacking access to sufficient food and water.

Before the outbreak, I used to go to my office in the centre of Freetown every day and my children would go to school.

Now we barely leave the house. We don’t visit anybody and no one visits us. The phone and social media are our main means of communicating with others. My children’s school is closed so they are inside all day.

Nowadays, the streets of Freetown are not as crowded as before the outbreak. Even though some people seem to continue with their lives as normal, the general feeling is of fear. People are scared of being in contact with someone who might be ill, so more often than not they stay at home.

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