Members of a Liberian Red Cross burial team, under contract from the Liberian Ministry of Health, remove the body of a suspected Ebola victim Lorpu David, 30 on Sept. 18, 2014 in the Gurley street community in central Monrovia, Liberia.
Members of a Liberian Red Cross burial team, under contract from the Liberian Ministry of Health, remove the body of suspected Ebola victim Lorpu David, 30, on Sept. 18, 2014, in the Gurley street community in central Monrovia, Liberia.Daniel Berehulak—The New York Times/Redux
Members of a Liberian Red Cross burial team, under contract from the Liberian Ministry of Health, remove the body of a suspected Ebola victim Lorpu David, 30 on Sept. 18, 2014 in the Gurley street community in central Monrovia, Liberia.
Members of a Liberian Red Cross burial team, remove the body of woman, a woman, 75, a suspected Ebola victim on Sept. 18, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia.
A burial team collects the body of a 75-year-old woman in a neighborhood called PHP in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 18, 2014.
A resident of the West Point neighborhood covers his nose as a burial team departed with a body in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 17, 2014.
Members of a burial team from the Liberian Red Cross under contract from the Liberian Ministry of Health remove the body of a man, a suspected Ebola victim from a home in Matadi on Sept. 17, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia.
A member of a Liberian Red Cross burial team is disinfected, with chlorine sprayed on by a colleague, after having removed the body of a man, a suspected Ebola victim from his home on Sept. 6, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia.
Residents look on as the body of a man suspected of dying from Ebola lies in a busy street, after it was reportedly dragged there to draw attention of burial teams following days of failed attempts by his family to have his body picked up, in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 15, 2014.
Friends and relatives weep as a burial team removes the body of a 75-year-old woman who neighbors insisted died of a stroke, in a neighborhood called PHP in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 18, 2014.
Eric Gweah, 25, grieves as he watches members of a Red Cross burial team carry the body his father, Ofori Gweah, 62, a suspected Ebola victim, in a riverside area called Rock Spring Valley in central Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 18, 2014.
Residents discuss an Ebola awareness campaign in Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 30, 2014.
Residents of the West Point neighborhood attend church after a 10-day quarantine was lifted in Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 31, 2014.
James Dorbor, 8, suspected to have Ebola, lays on the ground as his father Edward tried to get the boy to drink coconut water as, they wait for James to be admitted into the JFK Ebola treatment centre on Sept. 5, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia.
James Dorbor, 8, suspected to have Ebola, lays on the ground motionless and appeared to have died, as his father Edward Dorbor reacts in believeing the boy is dead, however the boy survived for a few more hours before passign away in the JFK Ebola treatment centre on Sept. 5, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia.
Medical staff carry James Dorbor, 8, suspected of having Ebola, into a treatment facility in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 5, 2014.
A relative grieves as a Liberian Red Cross burial team, dress themselves in full protective clothing, prior to removing the body of a suspected Ebola victim, Ofori Gweah, 62, on Sept. 18, 2014 in central Monrovia, Liberia.
Medical staff spray down a small plastic bag containing the blood sample of Hawa Konneh, 9, a suspected Ebola victim, as she lays on the dirt wrapped in a shawl in front of the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Ebola treatment centre, as her mother Masogbe sits near to her prior to Hawa's passing away on Sept. 4, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia.
Marvin Gweah, 28, is overcome by emotion as members of a Liberian Red Cross burial team, carry away the body of his father, Ofori Gweah, 62, a suspected Ebola victim, on Sept. 18, 2014 in central Monrovia, Liberia.
Members of a Liberian Red Cross burial team, under contract from the Liberian Ministry of Health, remove the body of sus
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Daniel Berehulak—The New York Times/Redux
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See How a Photographer is Covering Ebola's Deadly Spread

Oct 02, 2014

Reportage by Getty Images photographer Daniel Berehulak has been in Monrovia, Liberia for the past five weeks documenting, for the New York Times, the Ebola outbreak that has claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people as of Sept. 26, 2014. His images are published in TIME this week.

On Sept. 18, photographer Daniel Berehulak and New York Times’ correspondent Norimitsu Onishi were following a body collection and burial team in Monrovia, Liberia, when they visited the home of a woman who had contracted the Ebola virus and died surrounded by her family. “I went inside the house and saw physical proof of Ebola – blood around the victim’s mouth and on the sheets,” Berehulak tells TIME. “Meanwhile, Nori was outside talking to the family and the community. They all claimed Ebola had nothing to do with it.”

On that day, the burial team collected seven bodies and “every single family maintained that it wasn’t Ebola,” says Berehulak. “In some of these places, the burial teams were making their third or fourth visit to the same house.”

For the freelance photographer, the local population’s denial, compounded by a belief that doctors are contributing to the crisis, is further proof that the Ebola epidemic is out of control. Since the start of the outbreak in Dec. 2013, more than 6,500 people have been infected and 3080 have died in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. “In a lot of cases, families take no precautions and the virus is in an environment where it can spread easily,” he says, referring to Monrovia’s dense population and cramped infrastructure.

Berehulak has been on assignment in Liberia for the New York Times for the past five weeks – an unusually long time for such a sensitive and dangerous story [Photographer Samuel Aranda has also been on assignment for the same amount of time for the Times in Sierra Leone]. “Most media outlets have people that stay here for around five to 10 days,” says Berehulak. “Editors are extremely nervous – there’s a lot of pressure and a lot of restrictions.” Yet, covering a story where the “danger is not kinetic,” says Times’ International Picture Editor David Furst, comes with a different set of responsibilities. “This situation, in terms of coordination, is certainly different from what these photographers are used to,” he tells TIME. “I talk to Daniel very frequently about the need to remain vigilant in the procedures and keep safe.”

When Berehulak first arrived in Monrovia on Aug. 22 – armed with 300 pairs of gloves, 35 Personal Protective Equipment suits, goggles, surgical face masks, hand sanitizers and countless rolls of tape – he met with Getty Images photographer John Moore, who had been covering the Ebola crisis for a week. “I spent time finding out how he was working in the field, and I visited one of the Doctors Without Borders treatment centers, which was conducting training for their local staff.”

For several hours, Berehulak watched how the NGO’s staff members were preparing for high-risk areas – “sealing off every single part of the body so that nothing is exposed,” he explains, “taping off the edges of the PPE suits to the facemasks, ensuring that only the eyes are visible before putting on goggles.” He also studied the lengthy process involved with dressing down once out of infected areas – how to take off your gloves, how to use chlorine and how to dispose of your PPE.

That process is essential, says Furst. “It’s the only way you can mitigate the risks, and even though, after covering this heartbreaking situation day-in and day-out, you’re tired, you still need to make sure that you’re following the process of dunking your equipment into chlorine, using the appropriate gloves and wearing your PPE, despite whatever exhaustion you may be feeling.”

Fatigue, in fact, also has to be managed, especially considering the extended period of time Berehulak has spent on the field. “Daniel and I talk a lot about that,” says Furst. “We make sure that he takes days off to relax, to rest and to gather his strengths. We also talk frequently on whether he has the strength and is able to remain focused mentally on what is clearly a difficult story to cover.” Yet, there are also advantages to long-term assignments. “Daniel now has a lot contacts in Monrovia and he has a very good understanding of how to work in that environment. Plus, he very much wants to be there and presses me to stay.” Especially, Berehulak adds, since the situation is far from being over. “This is pretty dire. There are people dying in front of treatment centers because they are full. It seems to be getting worse and the biggest problem is this denial within local communities that Ebola is real.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that, in its worst-case scenario, the number of Ebola cases could reach 1.4 million by January.

Berehulak sees signs of hope, but they are fleeting. “I’d like to think that the outreach is working thanks to the Ebola Response Teams and the Contact Tracking Teams, which are going out to find the source of all infections. But I think it’s going to take time before we see any visible changes, especially in such an urban environment as Monrovia with small alleyways and a dense population.”

Until then, there’s little doubt that more people will die, and Berehulak feels he has a responsibility to help raise awareness of how dire the situation is. “There’s been talk of whole villages where the entire adult population has been decimated,” he says. “So I’m planning to stay for another five to six weeks, but, of course, it’s up to David. He makes the call.”

Daniel Berehulak is a freelance photographer represented by Reportage by Getty Images. He works frequently on assignment for the New York Times.

David Furst is the International Picture Editor at the New York Times.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ olivierclaurent

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