Religious leaders in Uganda are backing government efforts in fighting Ebola by discouraging followers from shaking hands or embracing during greeting, with some Christians expressing fears the lethal disease may affect Christmas celebrations.
“These are precautionary measures. The general advice in churches is: don’t shake hands; don’t embrace,” said Rev. Grace Kaiso, executive secretary of the Uganda Joint Christian Council, a grouping that brings together Roman Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox churches.
By last December, the ministry of health said the death toll from an outbreak of Ebola in the east African country had reached 32, and those infected totaled 120.
Ebola is a disease that is manifested through a very high fever, diarrhea, vomiting, red eyes and a rash. It is named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It spreads through close contact with body fluids of the infected person or bodies of those who have died. There is no specific treatment or vaccine known for Ebola.
Ms. Kaiso noted that some news reports said worshippers had skipped Christmas services due to fears of contracting Ebola.
The Daily Monitor, a Uganda newspaper, reported that clerics in Kasese, one of the districts affected by the disease, used spoons instead of bare hands to give Communion.
At the same time, the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council has also advised its followers against washing the bodies of those who were suspected to have died of the disease.