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Liberia collapses into 'economic hell' as panicked population abandons farm fields and factories

Ebola outbreak

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(NaturalNews) Ebola is now spreading so fast in West Africa, and causing so much death so quickly, that the regional economy is on the verge of a total collapse. The Washington Post (WP) reports that Liberia, the hardest-hit Ebola country, is now teetering over a chasm of "economic hell," as locals increasingly skip work to avoid infection.

Factory workers, farmers and many others with important daily duties simply aren't showing up to work, which means that goods and services, as well as food, are all becoming progressively more scarce. It is the worst-case scenario that international aid groups hoped wouldn't come about but that is clearly taking shape as the outbreak escalates with no end in sight.

"The basic necessities of survival in Liberia -- food, transportation, work, money, help from the government -- are rapidly being depleted," wrote Fred Barbash for WP. "The FAO [Food and Agricultural Organization] says that food is in increasingly short supply. Fields in some regions have been abandoned in part because people perceive Ebola may be coming from them or from the water used to irrigate them."

The FAO, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have all warned that economic chaos could result from a failure to contain Ebola in the stricken regions. Quarantines, special isolation units, travel restrictions and even military intervention from the U.S. has done little or nothing to halt the spread of Ebola in West Africa, and now the disease has been spotted for the first time in the U.S.

"People are terrified by how fast the disease is spreading," explained an FAO representative in Liberia, Alexis Bonte, to the media. "Neighbors, friends and family members are dying within just a few days of exhibiting shocking symptoms, the causes of which are not fully understood by many local communities."

"This leads them to speculate that water, food or even crops could be responsible. Panic ensues, causing farmers to abandon their fields for weeks."

Quarantines, travel restrictions spark 'panic buying,' further eating up scarce resources

As it turns out, forcing people to stay home for days at a time while government workers go door to door searching for Ebola patients -- this recently occurred in Sierra Leone -- tends to create mass hysteria. Things tend to spiral out of control very quickly, in other words, when people are pushed to their limits.

According to the IMF, countries like Liberia are having trouble not only producing enough food to feed people but also maintaining an adequate distribution system to deliver what little food exists. It is a progressively cascading crisis that is causing sharp food price increases and resultant "panic buying" as locals struggle just to survive.

Getting around is also difficult, as transportation systems are quickly degrading in response to rising fuel costs. According to WP, fuel sales have already plunged by as much as 35 percent in some areas, suggesting that people are now having to stay home with no viable way to get to work, even if they wanted to.

"The services sector, about half of Liberia's economy, employing about 45 percent of the work force, has experienced a drop in turnover of 50 to 75 percent," added Barbash.

"According to the World Bank report, Liberia's single-most important agricultural export, rubber, has been severely 'disrupted by both the reduced mobility of the workforce and the difficulty in getting the products to the ports due to the quarantine. Rubber exports which were initially expected to be about $148 million in 2014 are estimated to drop 20 percent.'"

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