Via Yahoo!News, an AFP report: West Africa feels knock-on effects of battle against Ebola. Excerpt:
West African countries Sunday lamented the knock-on effects of their fight against the Ebola epidemic as restrictions snarled transport, causing food shortages and price hikes.
"We are trying to cope," said Joseph Kelfalah, the mayor of Kenema, an eastern district of Sierra Leone that is under strict quarantine along with nearby Kailahun, complaining of "escalating food prices".
Under the country's "Operation Octopus", some 1,500 soldiers and police have been deployed to enforce the quarantines, turning people away at checkpoints and accompanying health workers searching for people who may have contracted the virus.
"Only essential officials and food items are being allowed in after intensive searches," deputy police chief Karrow Kamara told AFP.
Tribal authorities are imposing huge fines for failure to report cases of Ebola, which has claimed nearly 1,000 lives in west Africa in the worst outbreak in four decades.
Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are the countries hardest hit by the epidemic, which the UN World Health Organization has called an international health emergency.
In Sierra Leone and especially in neighbouring Liberia, the restrictions are curtailing trade and causing food shortages as well as price hikes.
Liberia declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, also deploying soldiers to restrict movement, notably from the worst-affected northern provinces to the capital Monrovia.
Sando Johnson, a senator in the province of Bomi, northwest of Monrovia, said the restrictions were "severe" and warned people would die of starvation if they are not relaxed.
'People will die of hunger'
"My county has been completely quarantined because soldiers don't allow anyone to get out of the area and they don’t allow anyone to go there," he told AFP by telephone.
"A bag of rice that sold for 1,300 LD ($14, 11 euros) is now selling for 1,800 LD. The poor people will die of hunger for God’s sake."
Health workers are also tasked with raising awareness about the disease, which is spread by close contact with an infected person through bodily fluids such as sweat, blood and tissue.
In Sierra Leone, 10 motorcycle taxi drivers have been infected after unknowingly carrying Ebola patients, according to the president of the National Bike Riders Association, David Sesay.
The two-wheeled taxis are a popular and indispensable form of transport in remote areas of west Africa where most roads are unpaved.
Efforts to halt the epidemic have been stymied by ignorance, distrust of Westerners and false rumours.