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Ebola costs keep mounting

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 - 02:19

The WHO has warned up to 20,000 people could be infected with Ebola over the next few weeks. As Sonia Legg reports, the implications for the West African countries suffering from the disease are huge.

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A few months ago Sierra Leone had high hopes of becoming an African tourist hotspot. But its beaches are now deserted - Ebola keeping the tourists away. Hotel managers in the resort of Freetown have rarely seen business this bad. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF ERNEST NDOMINAH, CEO KONA LODGE HOTEL SAYING: "We have to laid off all our staff because we cannot maintain them, we cannot maintain them any more, we cannot maintain the overheads, we cannot maintain the running cost of the business." (SOUNDBITE) (English) NUNO NEVES, GENERAL MANAGER, RADISSON BLU SAYING: "We have shut down some floors because we're not occupying them. We have shut down the meeting rooms, we have shut down some lights in the corridors and some guest areas." More than 2,600 people have died in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea - three of the poorest countries in West Africa. And Sierra Leone could lose 9 percent of economic growth next year. A recent three-day lockdown there - designed to slow the spread of the disease - has been hailed a success - with 130 new cases recorded. But the World Health Organisation's Director of Strategy has warned the crisis will get far worse before it gets better - possibly infecting 20,000 people by November if effective controls aren't implemented. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY, WHO AND CO-AUTHOR OF THE NEJM ARTICLE, CHRISTOPHER DYE SAYING : "We are now in the third explosive phase of growth of the epidemic. This is an exponential increase with hundreds, going into thousands of cases per week, and if we don't stop the epidemic very soon, this is going to turn from a disaster into a catastrophe" As well as the service sector - the disease has crippled mining and agriculture in West Africa. The countries also rely on each other for much of their trade. Cherif Abdallah heads a trade group at Madina market. It's the biggest in Guinea's capital Conakry. (SOUNDBITE) (French) CHERIF ABDALLAH, PRESIDENT GOHA SAYING: "Traders and businessmen are struggling because they used to sell their merchandise to Sierra Leone, Liberia and other neighbouring countries. All the borders are now closed. We must do something now to help them." The WHO says it will take a billion dollars to just limit the spread of the disease. And it could rumble on for years. Sierra Leone made almost 42 million dollars from tourism from 2012 - it could be some time before they make that again.

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Ebola costs keep mounting

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 - 02:19