The border crossing did not look encouraging. Dense tropical forest spilled over the banks of the rushing Mano river, which divides Guinea from Liberia. Three scientists from Oxford University – Jake Dunning, 38, Peter Horby, 47, and Laura Merson, 37 – stood on the bank and watched as the boatman used a plastic canister to bail out brown water from the bottom of the canoe. They then climbed in with their bags – they had no time to lose. It was 20 October 2014 and the travellers carried passports with visas for the three countries worst afflicted by the Ebola epidemic: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. They also carried mission papers, which gave them government approval to cross border posts that had been closed in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease. Once they reached the far bank and stepped out onto Liberian soil, a military border guard came out of his concrete bunker to inspect their documents. He was under instruction to take the temperature of every traveller, to check for the fever that is the first symptom of the Ebola virus. The guard had a log book but no thermometer, so he looked each of the… Read full this story
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