Ebola outbreak frustrates Ottawa woman trying to help relatives

An Ottawa woman says she feels helpless as her sister and nephew remain quarantined in Liberia, the West-African country worst hit by the Ebola outbreak.

Christiana Reeves, born in Monrovia, Liberia, sending cash to sister, but worries about food

The current epidemic in West Africa is the worst Ebola outbreak on record, officials say. (P.K. Lee/Medecins Sans Frontieres/Canadian Press)

An Ottawa woman says she is frustrated as she faces difficulties trying to help friends and relatives dealing with the Ebola epidemic in West African countries.

From Canada, Christiana Reeves says she is frustrated watching people she knows suffer without much help.

Reeves has lived in Ottawa for 16 years, coming from Monrovia, Liberia in 1995 and spending three years in Nova Scotia before moving to the nation’s capital.

She has spoken to her sister and nephew in Liberia throughout the ongoing epidemic, hearing how curfews and quarantined have limited movement within the country.

Ebola claimed a fourth doctor over the weekend and the disease is surging beyond control killing nearly 900 people, with hundreds more infected.

Reeves said her sister and nephew are healthy and she feels lucky for that. But many people she knows haven’t been able to reach their families and friends back home.

She said people can’t work in West African countries, so they can’t make money and as a result, can’t eat.

Ebola 'like a war' that's attacked West Africa

"I'm not able to help. I'm not there to see if I can do anything," Reeves said.

Christiana Reeves, who moved from Liberia to Canada in 1995, is frustrated she can't provide more help to those back home fighting the Ebola outbreak. (Facebook)
"This sickness, this virus, is like a war that has attacked Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. That's how we see it and the three countries will have to start all over again."

Liberia has recorded the highest number of Ebola cases and deaths.

Officials on Saturday released a letter President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf sent this week to U.S. President Barack Obama appealing for a dramatic increase in support to address an emergency she said "threatens civil order."

In addition to the struggles of Liberians and other West Africans, those countries hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are falling short on treatment and infection control measures because of a lack of resources and medical staff.

So far, only foreign health and aid workers have been evacuated from Sierra Leone and Liberia for treatment.

With files from the Associated Press