Local authorities in the Gulu region have suspended indefinitely nearly all local church worship and most other public gatherings following an outbreak of Ebola, one of the world's most virulent viruses.

Since the outbreak in Gulu, Uganda, Charles Oneka cannot find his brother, who is an ambulance driver in the region. "I'm very worried. My brother is carrying many sick people," Oneka said putting down the phone after trying six different numbers to reach his brother in Gulu, which is 215 miles from Kampala, Uganda's capital.

"If the virus reaches those refugee camps near Gulu it will be very bad," Oneka told Christianity Today

Like most of the 21 million Ugandans who have seen their share of grief, Oneka too is clucking his tongue and shaking his head, asking why yet another catastrophe has shaken Uganda. Health officials traced the source of the Ebola outbreak to one family in Gulu who were infected by an unknown source in September. But since the news of the Ebola epidemic went out early this week, residents are afraid to touch one another. And those with a nosebleed or diarrhea are feared to have the dreaded disease.

"People were panicking," Gulu policeman Wilson Odur said. And Ugandans nationwide fear the disease will spread to their regions. The mostly rural farming population of Uganda is still confused about how the virus spreads. Ministry of Health, World Health Organization (WHO), and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) officials, meanwhile, are educating rural and mostly illiterate subsistence farmers about hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus. Broadcasts on Radio Freedom Gulu even discourage shaking hands.

'"I'm terrified. This disease can kill in just a few days," George Kabwagu, a Jinja resident, said.

The first-ever ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.