Uganda warns on contact as Ebola reaches capital, Kampala

Health officials at Kagadi Hospital wearing Ebola protective gears.

President Museveni on Monday banned all physical contact after a victim of a deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus was reported in the capital Kampala for the first time.

"The Ministry of Health are tracing all the people who have had contact with the victims," Yoweri Museveni said in a state broadcast, adding that 14 people had died in total since Ebola broke out in western Uganda three weeks ago.

Two cases have since been reported in the capital, with one victim reported dead in Kampala's Mulago Hospital, he said, calling on people not to shake hands to avoid the spread of the killer virus.

"Ebola spreads by contact when you contact each other physically... avoid shaking of hands that can cause contact through sweat, which can cause problems," Museveni said.

"Do not take on burying somebody who has died from symptoms that look like Ebola -- instead call health workers because they know how to do it...avoid promiscuity because thiss sickness can also go through sex," he added. 

Seven doctors and 13 health workers at Mulago hospital are in quarantine after "at least one or two cases" were taken there, with one later dying from the virus. 

The latest outbreak started in Uganda's western Kibaale district, around 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of the Kampala, and around 50 kilometres from the border with Democratic Republic of Congo. 

The rare haemorrhagic disease, named after a small river in DR Congo, killed 37 people in western Uganda in 2007 and claimed the lives of at least 170 people in the north of the country in 2000. 

"I wish you good luck, and may God rest the souls of those who died in eternal peace," Museveni added. 

Meanwhile, Health officials and other authorities in Kibaale are warning against social gatherings after an outbreak of Ebola in the district. 

Health officials and other authorities in Kibaale are warning against social gatherings after an outbreak of Ebola in the district.

The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization on Saturday confirmed that the mysterious illness that has left 14 people dead, among them twelve family members is Ebola. This followed Laboratory investigations done at the Uganda Virus Research Institute which confirmed the disease.

The disease broke out about three weeks ago in an extended family of Yostus Isoke of Nyanswiga village Nyamarunda Sub County, killing him and his other eleven family members.

A clinical officer at Kagadi hospital Clare Muhumuza and her four month old baby also succumbed to the virus.

Muhumuza who treated most of the patients died on Tuesday at Mulago hospital, while her child died on Saturday.

Dr Dan Kyamanywa, the Kibaale district Health officer, says two people are admitted with the disease at the newly established Kagadi hospital Ebola isolation ward. Although refusing to name the victims, the health officer explains that one is a relative of the deceased clinical officer while the other is a distance relative of Yostus Isoke’s family.

The patient has been close to the family during the illness thus contracting the disease.

Meanwhile a team from the Ministry of Health and those from the virus research institute is in the district to man the Ebola treatment center at Kagadi hospital and do more investigation into the origin of the disease in Kibaale.

Aware that Ebola is a viral disease that spreads so easily, health officials are warning against social gatherings and unnecessary body contacts. Dr. Kyamanywa says his office is now on a trail to sensitize the masses against such social gatherings as weddings, funeral rites and handshakes as a precaution to the disease spread.

The doctor also calls for vigilance in reporting mysterious illness and proper handling of patients with protective gloves.

Robinnah Nabanja, the Kibaale district woman Member of Parliament, says the disease outbreak is a shock to the district. Nabanja calls on locals to observe the precautionary measures as prescribed by health officials to avoid catching the disease.

News of the Ebola outbreak has caused panic at Kagadi hospital as some patients and their attendants first fled the wards on Saturday for fear of catching the disease. By Sunday morning the always full outpatient department at the hospital was almost empty.

In 2000, at least 425 people were infected of whom more than half died. Those who died included Dr Matthew Lukwiya, who together with his medical staff at St Mary’s Hospital, Lacor in Gulu, tried to contain the virus from spreading.