While Muslims around the world began celebrating Eid al-Adha, the most important Islamic holiday, on Saturday, festivities in West Africa were subdued this year because of the growing Ebola outbreak. Residents in Guinea and Sierra Leone were urged not to embrace each other or go to public places to pray, according to BBC News.
Around 85 percent of Guinea is Muslim and the country is one of the three West African nations hit hardest by the contagious disease. In Sierra Leone, the Council Of Imams reminded residents to avoid bodily contact during celebrations with family and friends, even those not exhibiting symptoms.
Every other year, large crowds gather in open squares to celebrate and, as tradition goes, slaughter a sheep. This year, families sacrificed their sheep at home in small groups, according to the Associated Press.
"Look at how people are unkempt. Poorly dressed. Have you ever seen Tabaski celebration like this? I never have," Guinea resident Mamoudou Conde told the AP.
Eid al-Adha begins on the 10th day of the Islamic lunar month of Dhul-Hijja, during the hajj, when around 1.5 million Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (This year over 2 million hajjis made the holy trek, according to the Daily Mail.) Saudi officials were concerned that an Ebola carrier could come to the holy site, but so far no cases have been identified, the BBC reported.
There is a two- to 21-day incubation period after a person has been exposed to someone showing symptoms of Ebola. Though a person is not considered contagious if they are not showing symptoms, the Liberian government issued a statement last month urging residents to quarantine themselves for 21 days after being exposed to an infected person.
At least 3,400 people have died from Ebola in West Africa, and nearly 7,500 people have been infected since the outbreak began in May. That number is expected to rise as more cases are discovered around the globe.