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Reporting From The Site Of The Ebola Outbreak's Origin


More than 2,000 people in West Africa have died from Ebola since March, according to the World Health Organization. International health workers and the governments of affected countries in the region are taking steps to try to stop the spread of the virus. Sierra Leone has announced that it will impose a three-day countrywide lockdown starting September 19, telling people to remain at home. Neighboring Liberia reports more than 200 new cases each week. Africa correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton travelled to the far North of that country, and she joins us now. Ofeibea, thanks for being with us.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Greetings, Scott. And if you can hear the cicadas - the sound of the cicadas, the music of the cicadas - everything would be romantic and lyrical if it weren't for the fact that Ebola is stalking this country and stalking this region.

SIMON: Ofeibea, tell us where you are and what it's like, what you see, what people are telling you.

QUIST-ARCTON: This is Lofa County, and we have spent the day at a case management center run by Doctors Without Borders for Ebola patients. It's one of their tented villages in Foya, and that's where they see suspected cases, confirmed cases and people who are suffering with the virus. Some people are now, in inverted commas, "braver." As soon as they feel that they have a terribly runny stomach or dysentery or diarrhea or the chills, they are coming forward to say I'm sick, please help me. There are also, thankfully, Scott, Ebola survivors who we have met - men and women who didn't know whether they were going to survive or not. But now, here in the North, things are getting bad. We're told that more and more people rather than fewer and fewer - as one would have thought - are becoming infected with Ebola.

SIMON: Now you're, as we said, in the far North of Liberia. Do you have any indication as to how important the government thinks it is to try and stop Ebola there?

QUIST-ARCTON: It's hugely important because not far from here is the border with Guinea. And it's an area where the movement of people, trade - people are moving around all the time. So that is how the virus can spread. That's how they're saying that Ebola came to Liberia in the first place. But it's so remote compared with the capital, which, of course, is getting much more attention. And we're being told by Doctors Without Borders how is it that there aren't more hands-on-the-ground, experienced people - doctors, nurses, hygienists? How come we are being abandoned? That there needs to be a concerted international effort to get hands-on-the-ground, people to help in the care of Ebola patients and also people who can help find Ebola patients to stop the virus spreading.

SIMON: That's NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton. She and producer Sami Yenigun are in Lofa County, Liberia. Thanks for being with us, Ofeibea.

QUIST-ARCTON: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.