Ebola casts pall over Eid holiday in West Africa

2014-10-04 18:00
File: AFP

File: AFP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Conakry - The raging Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 3,400 people in West Africa cast a pall on Saturday over celebrations in the region of Eid, one of Islam's most important holidays.

In Guinea, where an estimated 85% of the 11 million people are Muslim, the day appeared almost as any other.

The usual fields and squares where people gather to pray on Eid al-Adha were empty, as people heeded their government's warning to avoid large gatherings. People slaughtered their sheep — the traditional rite of Eid — in small groups at home, rather than at the usual large parties. Merchants complained that few people bought new clothes, as is typical for the holiday, called Tabaski in many parts of West Africa.

"Look at how people are unkempt. Poorly dressed. Have you ever seen Tabaski celebration like this? I never have," said Mamoudou Conde, a 28-year-old who sells car parts in Conakry, Guinea's capital. "Merchants had to slash their prices on holiday clothes. They had no clients."

In Sierra Leone, which also has a sizable Muslim population among its six million people, the United Council of Imams warned believers not to shake hands or embrace. It was a reminder that even on holidays, the Health Ministry's "ABC" guidelines — Avoid Bodily Contact — must be followed.

Hardest-hit countries

Ebola spreads through contact with the bodily fluids of the sick, and with no licensed treatment available, the only way to stop an outbreak is to completely isolate those who are infected.

But with more than 7 400 people believed infected — most of them in countries with woefully inadequate health systems at the best of times — there are far more sick people than beds in isolation units to treat them.

In a bid to stop the spread, the hardest-hit countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have all issued similar rules, encouraging people to keep their distance and wash their hands frequently.

 The disease has also touched Nigeria and Senegal, but neither country has had a new infection in weeks. The United States confirmed its first case, in a traveller from Liberia, this week.

"Ebola is undermining the very foundations of our traditions," said Idrissa Sall, a 32-year-old driver in Conakry. "How can I greet my parents, my children when I'm barred from giving kisses?"

Read more on:    senegal  |  liberia  |  guinea  |  sierra leone  |  nigeria  |  west africa  |  health  |  ebola

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.