Ugandan health officials are monitoring over 200 people who had close contact with Ebola patients, as the country attempts to curb the spread of the deadly disease that has claimed 16 lives since early July.

A total of 30 patients are in isolation wards, including eight health workers in a national hospital in the capital, Kampala, Uganda's Health Ministry said on Thursday.

"The ministry team is actively and closely following up to 232 people suspected to have had contact with the dead and sick," said the ministry's Dennis Rwamafa in a statement.

"These contacts have not shown any signs of the disease but continue to be monitored," he said.

Ebola has hit Uganda four times, including in 2000 when it left 224 people dead in the north of the country.

The government is encouraging people to report suspected Ebola cases and has urged people to avoid shaking hands and large gatherings.

But many people say they are afraid of contracting the disease.

Local authorities in Kibaale - the epicentre of the outbreak - and the neighbouring district of Kabarole have banned social gatherings and ordered the closure of all markets until the outbreak is under control, according to local media.

Some 200 schools in Kibaale have also temporarily closed, and the head of Uganda's prison service has banned visits to
inmates.

Source: Al Jazeera And Agencies