The president of Uganda has called on citizens in the East African country to avoid physical contact, including "handshaking kissing and having sex."
The unusual request has to do with the spread of the deadly and highly contagious Ebola virus that killed approximately 14 people in Uganda over recent weeks, according to a BBC report.
The disease has no known cure or vaccine and some strains can kill up to 90 percent of victims within days. Patients and visitors in a Kibaale province hospital, where an outbreak was reported, reportedly fled the hospital after hearing about the Ebola contamination.
In a nationally televised speech today, President Yoweri Museveni said health officials are working to contain the disease to the rural district where the outbreak was confirmed Saturday, but at least one of the suspected victims was taken to a hospital in the capital city of Kampala. Now, nearly two dozen medical workers at Mulago Hospital are being held in isolation.
"We have asked people in the whole country to be careful and aware of those who present with symptoms. We have informed health facilities of the right way to respond," said Dr. Anthony Mbonye at Uganda's Ministry of Health.
Mbonye said no other patients at Mulago Hospital in Kampala are at risk, and he is optimistic the outbreak in the Kibaale district 125 miles west of the capital city can be contained soon.
"I have hope because since Friday we have not had any new suspected cases of Ebola," he said.
However, another health official from the affected district told the Associated Press up to six more patients suspected to have Ebola have been admitted to a hospital there and said people in other villages are reporting possible Ebola infections.
Mbonye said people are frightened because many illnesses that are common in the region, such as malaria, have the same symptoms as Ebola. He said health officials have to balance the need to inform the public while not wanting to cause unnecessary panic. In Kibaale, schools are closed and social gatherings have been cancelled.
Experts from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in Uganda to advise health officials responding to the outbreak.