Sierra Leone's finance minister said that the Ebola epidemic is isolating affected countries from the global economy and freezing economic activity with devastating effect.
"Everybody is running away from Ebola, Kaifala Marah said at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington."
"By default or design, it really is an economic embargo," he said.
According to Marah, the epidemic, which in just a few months has killed more than 4,000 people mostly in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, has stalled activity in the key sectors of the economy
Frightened by the rapid spread of Ebola, construction workers have abandoned work sites and equipment, he said. Tourism could fall by 60 percent.
That has also savaged government revenues, even as authorities are forced to increase spending in and effort to contain the outbreak and care for those stricken.
The freeze of activity importantly includes air transport, which he said will "stagnate and strangulate" the region.
"We've been isolated," he said.
"Every gain that we have made has been lost," he said.