herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

I don't see panic on the ground, just frustration, says Irish aid worker

an Irish aid worker who is working in Sierra Leone says he feels safe from the threat of Ebola.

Dualta Roughneen (36), a disaster manager with Plan Ireland, arrived in Freetown on Tuesday.

"The city is not nearly as busy as it is normally would be, traffic congestion is much less.

"People are not out and about as much," he said.

Mr Rougheen is based in a Freetown office trying to raise funds and get a plan of action in place.

"Yes I do feel safe," he said. "It is a very different situation for me compared to health workers are dealing directly with patients," he told the Herald.

Asked whether people in Sierra Leone were beginning to panic, he said it is more a lack of action that is affecting them.

Adapt

"The local people are frustrated rather than panicking. From what I gather people in areas where they have been experiencing numbers of cases of Ebola are starting to realise that they need to adapt to halt the spread," he answered.

Even though he worked in North Korea, Afghanistan, Liberia, Sudan and the Central African Republic, the aid-worker was most apprehensive about going to Sierra Leone because of the unknown.

However, now that he is on the ground there he is no longer worried.

"I was never nervous, but more apprehensive because as the environment becomes more familiar it makes it easier," he said.

He is taking extreme caution during his month-long stint in Sierra Leone, using a special hand sanitizer and limiting social contact as much as possible.

"In Ireland, if there is a case, which there may be, everyone has to be vigilant in recognising their potential exposure but being informed now will limit the risk beyond a very small circle," he said.

Donate to Plan Ireland's Ebola response at www.plan.ie/ebola.

hnews@herald.ie

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