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Uganda bans physical contact as Ebola reaches capital

A September 2007 file photo shows staff of the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres treating a suspected Ebola patient in the isolation unit of Kampungu in Congo's Eastern Kasai province.

Pascale Zintzen/MSF/REUTERS

Uganda's president 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.

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"Ebola spreads by contact when you contact each other physically... avoid shaking of hands that can cause contact through sweat, which can cause problems," Mr. 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 this 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 west of Kampala, and around 50 kilometres from the border with Democratic Republic of Congo.

The rare haemorrhagic disease, named after a small river in Democratic Republic of 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," Mr. Museveni added.

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