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Rwanda Coronavirus Update |Coronavirus-COVID-19 Updates in Rwanda

Rwanda confirmed its first case of the COVID-19 on Saturday 14th March 2020. The confirmed case was an Indian citizen who arrived from Mumbai. Rwanda became the second East African country to confirm a case after Kenya had confirmed their first case on Friday 13th March 2020.

The Coronavirus COVID-19 prevention measures announced by the Government of Rwanda are rigorously observed, especially frequent hand-washing and physical distancing. In addition, face masks must be worn in public and multi-family compounds. Withholding information related to contact tracing or COVID-19 symptoms jeopardise public safety and will be punished in accordance with applicable laws.

The key symptoms of coronavirus are dry cough, shortness of breath, and fever.

With commercial aviation having resumed on August 1, after months of a suspended activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Kigali International Airport has made several changes and adjustments to ensure the safety of passengers and airport staff.

We engaged Charles Habonimana, the Managing Director at Rwanda Airport Company for insights into some of the changes and adjustments.

Check-in 4 hours before departure

New processes have been adopted for departing passengers to ensure compliance with new local and international standards and procedures that aim at ensuring safety. At Kigali International Airport, the check-in time has been increased from two to four hours, a move Rwanda Airport Company said is to ensure the safety of passengers and crew.

Welcoming parties for returning travellers, will also not be allowed going forward as arrivals will be tested for Covid-19 and transit to designated hotels as they wait for their test results.

“In a bid to ensure the health and safety of everyone, we encourage that only departing travellers to come to the airport. For arriving passengers, their welcoming parties will meet them at their designated hotels, after they have been tested for Covid-19,” Habonimana said, adding that results will return in 24 hrs and if negative they proceed home.

Airport staff to operate in shifts

The airport will maintain the current staff capacity which has been scheduled to work in shifts, in compliance with the Ministry of Health safety measures such as social distancing. Just like frontline workers, airport staff will be periodically tested for Covid-19 to ensure the safety of passengers and their colleagues.

The staff was also trained in the measures and new processes in collaboration with the Ministry of Health/RBC to ensure safe operations at airports in Rwanda.

Six airlines get clearance to fly into Rwanda

So far, six airlines have been cleared to resume operations in Rwanda on different dates with more expected to join in the coming days. These include RwandAir, Ethiopian Airlines, SN Brussels, Qatar Airways, Kenya Airways, and KLM.

In the process, the airlines have been required to submit applications for the resumption of operations and an updated airline schedule.

The updated schedule allows airports to manage traffic with new measures in place.

Ongoing airport upgrade and operationalization of airstrips

According to Habonimana, the upgrade of Kigali International Airport is still ongoing and is expected to increase space in the airport terminal area.

The upgrade has however not affected the re-opening of the airport.

Habonimana added that there are also plans to make operational regional airstrips such as Kamembe.

Compliance to international and local standards

Rwanda Airport Company noted putting in place the new compliance measures at the airport was guided by regulations from various organisations including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Air Transport Association, the World Health Organisation, the Ministry of Health, and the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority.

Other measures

International passengers arriving at Kigali International Airport from across the world must have taken a Covid-19 test within not more than 72 hours since their departure.

This also concerns transiting passengers.

Guidelines from the Rwanda Biomedical Centre also requires arriving passengers to fill out a passenger address forms available on RBC’s website in addition to their Covid-19 certificates.

They will also be screened and required to take a second test on arrival to confirm their negative status after which they will be taken to one of the designated hotels for up to 24 hours as they await their results.

To facilitate their transit, the government has negotiated discounted rates at 17 city hotels where they will shelter until their results return.

Tests will be administered at $50 with an additional $10 medical service fee.

Test results will be relayed to guests via email or text message.

With about two weeks to the resumption of flights on August 1st, National Carrier RwandAir is working on changes with an aim to improve the safety of passengers amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Like other airlines across the world, RwandAir will be making adjustments on a number of inflight aspects to reduce physical contact and chances of reduction of contracting the virus.

Gobena Mikael, the Chief Commercial Officer of RwandAir said that the resumption will be characterized by adjustment to improve both passenger and crew safety.

Mikael was speaking at a webinar on the Impact of Covid-19 on the East African Aviation sector convened by the East African Business Council.

The move is also aimed at ensuring passenger confidence in flights following weeks of halted operations

Among the changes Mikael noted will be rolled out include the elimination of inflight reading material to avoid physical contact.

For airlines meals and snack services, Mikael said that there is going to be a significant amendment from regular service to serving bottled drinks and packed snacks consequently reducing contacts between crew and passengers.

He noted that while this might be considered as a reduction of the level of service, it is geared at improving the safety of the crew and passengers during flights.

For long haul flights, RwandAir will adopt a lunch box type hot meal as opposed to the regular dinner, lunch and drinks service.

Other materials such as headsets, duvets and headrests, he said will be taken out, sanitized and replaced at the end of every trip.

“For materials such as headsets, duvets, headrests they will be sanitized and resealed. At the end of the trip, we will take them out and put new ones. Every seat belt, tray, and everything that is touched we have devised mechanisms to sanitize and clean them,” he said.

“We have everything in place at the moment, temperature checks, social distancing measures and signs, desk shields and visors, everyone is required to wear a mask, gowns for the crew,” he added.

While there have been widespread fears that the cost of tickets will go up as there is likely to be fewer passengers, Mikael noted that as opposed costs going up, they are likely to go down with increased competition and confidence building.

“The costs will go down, how can we expect to encourage people and bring confidence? We have to look at our customers as if they are in power, they don’t have to travel, and they have to feel safe,” he said.

For instance, RwandAir will be introducing bonus mileage, flexible pricing, and refunds without charge among other things to be more attractive to consumers.

On regional airlines survival and recovery, he said that the region’s airlines have to work together in multiple aspects such as cooperation and sharing information to make sure they can stay ahead of the pandemic and to avoid having to halt operations in the event confirmed cases increase.

With closer collaboration, he said that the regional airlines will be able to learn patterns of the ailment and curb it without much interruption to operations.

The same cooperation, he said will serve the purpose in avoiding the onslaught of smaller regional airlines by major global airlines.

As opposed to protectionism, he proposed competition on the basis of aspects such as quality and delivery.

Kenyan Airways which resumed flights this week will be relying on domestic flights in the short term as they wait for the re-opening of regional airspaces.

The airline’s Chief Executive Allan Kilavuka said that to improve recovery chances, regional countries should review the bilateral air service agreements to reduce the costs of travel between countries and consequently stimulate air travel.

Kilavuka noted that going forward, airlines are likely to work on reducing base costs and overheads to make the airlines leaner and effective.

Further, he noted that the period had shown new business models and approaches such as cargo which had grown popular in recent months.

For instance, RwandAir has been using some of its passenger planes for cargo which has revealed the existence of a market and demand.

However, even with the re-opening of the airport and resumption of flights, Air Tanzania Chief Executive Ladislaus Matindi said that one ought not to expect an immediate resumption of business activities and clientele flow.

He said that from experience in recent months, despite maintaining operations while other airlines were not flying, they hardly had any outbound flights as most countries’ airspaces were closed.

He, however, said that in the coming days as more countries consider opening up, business is likely to resume albeit slowly.

Rwandan authorities in parts of the capital, Kigali, have placed a stay-at-home order following an increase in new coronavirus cases.

People living in Gikondo Hill in the district of Kicukiro and some parts of Mount Kigali in the district of Nyarugenge were ordered to “keep home immediately for a period of at least 15 days,” according to the ministry of the interior.

The order was released Thursday night and several residents woke up unaware of it on Friday. Police called Clarisse Mutamuliza, who lives in Gikondo, back to her house as she was going to work.

“I hadn’t seen it in the press, it was confirmed late last night. I didn’t even know my neighbourhood had cases of coronavirus,” Ms Mutamuliza told BBC Great Lakes.

The Ministry of the Interior said it reinstated the lockdown “based on analysis of the status of coronavirus in Kigali by health officials.”

Rwanda has reported 204 new cases in the last seven days, including 21 in Kigali.

Most recent cases have been recorded in an eastern city bordering Tanzania, and in another western city bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Upon announcing their first case of coronavirus on 21 March, the East African nation became the first in sub-Saharan Africa to order a complete shutdown. 45 days later the restrictions were eased, in May.

Until now, the country has reported 850 cases, 385 recoveries and 2 deaths.

The Government has reached a decision to repatriate Rwandan nationals who have been stranded in various parts of India due to restrictions on movement and international flight suspension.

According to the Rwandan Embassy in New Delhi, there are about 130 Rwandans who have been stranded in India since the closure of international travel.

Jacqueline Mukangira, Rwanda’s High Commissioner to India told The New Times that a deal has been reached with RwandAir to repatriate nationals early next month. “We have agreed with RwandAir to facilitate Rwandans to travel back home. If nothing changes, the plane will arrive in Mumbai on July 2,” she said in a phone interview.

Mukangira said they made a formal request to the External Ministry of India to allow Rwanda to repatriate its citizens and asked RwandAir for landing clearance. Many of the Indian-stuck Rwandans are students and patients who went to treat.

It is expected that the national carrier will repatriate nearly 100 Rwandans, who have already expressed interest in returning home, including Indian nationals operating in Rwanda.

In April, the government concluded an agreement with RwandAir to repatriate Rwandans from abroad, including those working and studying in the US.

The airline has been operating flights every Friday to and from Brussels.

Just a few days after Rwanda announced the reopening of tourism on chartered flights for domestic tourists and visitors, officials say the country is on a strong trajectory with bookings for gorilla trekking, canopy and Akagera safari tours growing.

“The pattern is looking very, very strong within a week of the reopening of the tourism sector,” said Belise Kariza, Chief Tourism Officer at the Rwanda Development Board on Friday, June 26.

According to Kariza, 69 bookings have been made for Volcanoes National Park, home of the popular endangered mountain gorillas.

“At least 42 are confirmed bookings, meaning these are the people who will be trekking the mountain gorillas,” she noted in a webinar, adding that there is a strong proportion of international and Rwandan visitors, as well as EAC residing in Rwanda.

The rest of the reservations are the ones that will go for mountain hiking.

The tourism head also indicated that Nyungwe National Park, home to canopy walks, is just beginning to pick up with four confirmed tourists, and 16 Akagera National Park visitors.

Last week on June 18, Rwanda relaxed tourism restrictions allowing both domestic and international tourists to visit some of the country’s tourism offerings.

The declaration came nearly three months after the country’s tourism operations were suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tourists are now required on minimum health and safety guidelines to visit Rwanda.

In order to ensure that the industry picks up, Rwanda announced promotional prices for gorilla-trekking licenses as well as special packages for other tourism offers in the country, primarily targeting local and regional people.

Rwandans and East African nationals are paying $200 now, while foreign residents are paying $500, a promotion that ends in December.

This would go a long way in promoting domestic tourism in the region, according to RDB. Global tourists are to start charging $1,500.

Tourism sector is one of Rwanda’s hardest-hit sectors, with figures showing that the number of tourists fell 54 per cent in March this year after the lockdown announcement.

According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), travel receipts (revenue from international tourists coming to Rwanda) dropped by 35 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the same time last year.

Rwanda saw a 100 per cent decline in visitor numbers in the months of April and May, Kariza noted.

In addition, the private sector is working on ways to get back to business.

Frank Gisha Mugisha, the Director-General of the Private Sector Federation’s Rwanda Tourism Chamber, stressed that they are engaging hoteliers and tour operators to design attractive tourist packagers.

Rwanda will host the East Africa Tourism Platform secretariat, a regional private sector tourism body founded by TradeMark East Africa in 2011 for the East African region.

The platform was created as an effort to promote the East African Community as one tourism destination and some identify it as a tourism lobby party.

Rwanda was identified as the new host of the body’s secretariat during an online webinar held on Tuesday, naming three Rwandan members to be part of the governance committee.

The organization will be led by Amiable Rutagarama, Chairman of the Rwanda Chamber of Tourism, Frank Gisha Mugisha, Director-General of the Rwanda Chamber of Tourism at the Private Sector Federation (PSF), and Bonita Mutoni, Chairperson of the Rwanda Travel and Tours Association.

Trademark East Africa announced a $250,000 (roughly Rwf 238.4 million) financial package to support the body’s operations, including market development, advocacy, and institutional capacity, among others.

Waturi Matu, senior director at Trademark East Africa, lauded the platform as an effort that has driven the EAC region’s marketing as one travel brand.

The organization worked with EAC countries ‘ national airlines to persuade them to reduce airfares and grant each other fifth freedom rights, facilitating the region’s travel and tourism.

The platform’s launch comes at a time when the region’s tourism struggles after taking a heavy hit from the Covid-19 pandemic, which has ravaged countries.

Tourism and hospitality have been affected in all EAC countries, with the closure of national parks and hotel occupancy going down to zero except for a few instances where lodging facilities are used as quarantine centres.

Emmanuel Nsabimana, the Rwanda Development Board ‘s Head of Tourism Regulation revenue shrank as the operators lost profits, sending the industry to losses. “We reported a Rwf30 billion loss for the hospitality industry in March; from at least 207 hotel businesses and 1,000 members,” he noted in a webinar. A result of losing income, he said, many operators struggle to pay back bank loans.

Tourism is the top foreign exchange earner in Rwanda, contributing 3 per cent directly to gross domestic product ( GDP) and 10 per cent indirectly, and representing 8 per cent of off-farm jobs.

According to the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), revenues produced from the industry represent 21 per cent of total exports.

It’s not only in Rwanda but in other countries the sector has been destroyed.

“Of many operators in the region, working capital is almost non-existent,” noted Pearl Kakooza, president of the Uganda Tourism Association.

“That’s why we think governments should (as some have already done) set aside rehabilitation funds for the companies affected, and we need to open up regionally,” she said.

Tourism operators in Tanzania have been left without business despite the country not implementing any lockdown measures, according to Tanzania’s Executive Secretary of Tourism Confederation Richard Rugimbana.

Last year Tanzania’s tourism industry generated some $2.6 billion and attracted 1.5 million tourists. “But with the Covid-19 pandemic, because of the cancelation of bookings and the postponement of tours, all tour operators lost business,” Rugimbana said.

While countries are getting ready to reopen companies, operators agree there is a need for harmonized tourism strategies in the region to revive the sector and turn its fortunes around in the long term.

Fred Odek, the incoming chairperson of the East Africa Tourism Platform (EATP), highlighted that one of the key focus areas would be to revive the sector in the region.

EATP partners with national ministries responsible for agriculture, wildlife, trade and transport departments, the EAC Secretariat, and private sector organizations.

It does so through advocacy, marketing, facilitating access to finance and risk management services, development of skills, research and sharing of information.

Rwanda has set up an economic recovery fund through which businesses that have been most affected, especially those in the tourism and hospitality industry, can leverage to reopen.

Rwanda is one of four African countries whose citizens will be welcomed into the Schengen region from July 11, as soon as the countries open their borders there, reports claim.

A list compiled on the basis of countries with a common epidemiological situation with Europe excludes the African continent, with the exception of four countries: Rwanda, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, according to reports from Europe.

The Schengen region comprises the following countries: Germany, Austria , Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France , Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands , Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland.

This comes as governments across Europe started to open their borders during the coronavirus pandemic, following weeks of closure.

The border situation in the 27-member bloc has remained a mixed image in the last few weeks.

Each nation had its own rules and the reopening timetable. Commercial flights in Albania resumed on 15 June.

But the EU appeared to have agreed on Saturday, June 27, on how it will assess which countries meet health standards-one of the entry criteria.

Reports in the UK have indicated that blanket restrictions on non-essential overseas travel will relax from July 6 onwards.

After months of travel restrictions over the coronavirus outbreak, the EU is reportedly considering reopening borders to visitors from more than 10 countries outside the bloc including Japan, South Korea and Canada from July 1.

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive body, earlier recommended the reopening of external borders from July 1.

Rwanda was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to order a total lockdown because of the coronavirus. A number of Rwanda safari destinations including Volcanoes National Park are currently temporarily closed as a measure to curb the spread of coronavirus. However, Rwanda is considering easing the existing Coronavirus Covid-19 restrictions that had completely grounded the travel & tourism sector in order to make it possible for both locals and internationals interested in Rwanda safari tours to resume visits to various sites.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the world, tourism was Rwanda’s biggest foreign exchange earner. But the government had since March permanently shut down the country’s tourism sector and closed borders and airports to cub the importation rate of the disease.

They have now set new guidelines New Coronavirus COVID-19 Travel Conditions for Tourists. READ MORE…

Rwanda Re-opens its TourismThe Rwanda Development Board (RDB) on Wednesday, June 17th 2020 announced the reopening of tourism activities and attractions, with a sharp cut in the price of permits for tracking endangered mountain gorillas.

RDB said in a statement that reopening of Rwanda tour activities and recommencement of international travel for charter flights are effective from June 17, 2020. However, they are exempting international tourists travelling with charter flights from anti-coronavirus measures that prohibit travellers from entry to Rwanda and suspend commercial flights. READ MORE…

Rwanda Coronavirus Update 18th JuneThe 2020 Rwanda International Trade Fair, Expo2020, has been postponed to December 11-31 due to Covid-19 pandemic. It was expected to take place from July 21-August 10. The 23rd Trade Fair has been postponed due to the fact that Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the movement of international exhibitors.

Rwanda Private Sector Federation, the organizers of the exhibition, announced the postponement on Thursday, June 18.

According to Eric Kabera who is in charge of Public Relations at the Federation, it is expected that by December countries will have opened borders and movements. “We have discussed with our exhibitors from different countries and have agreed that by December, commercial activities, as well as movements, will be resumed in many countries,” he said.

New Coronavirus COVID-19 Travel Conditions for TouristsRwanda was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to order a total shutdown because of the coronavirus. A number of Rwanda safari destinations including Volcanoes National Park are currently temporarily closed as a measure to curb the spread of coronavirus. However, Rwanda is considering easing the existing Coronavirus Covid-19 restrictions that had completely grounded the travel & tourism sector in order to make it possible for both locals and internationals interested in Rwanda safari tours to resume visits to various sites.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the world, tourism was Rwanda’s biggest foreign exchange earner. But the government had since March permanently shut down the country’s tourism sector and closed borders and airports to cub the importation rate of the disease. READ MORE…

One of the six villages of Kigali City that were placed on lockdown in Kigali last month was permitted to return to normal life, while 3 more were added to the lockdown list.

This was announced by the Ministry of Local Government (Minaloc) on Monday night, a development that means there are currently a total of eight villages in the city on lockdown as Rwanda continues with measures to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The lockdown on Kadobogo village in the Kigali sector in the district of Nyarugenge will be lifted from Thursday 21 July, while Tetero, Indamutsa and Intiganda villages all located in Tetero cell, Muhima sector in the district of Nyarugenge have been lockdown for at least 15 days.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Local Governments, Kadobogo’s lifting out of the lockdown was based on an appraisal of the Covid-19 pandemic in the region by the medical institutions.

Kamabuye, Nyenyeri, Rugano and Zuba villages located in Nyarurama cell, Kigarama Sector in Kicukiro district, plus Gisenga village located in Kigali Cell of Kigali Sector, Nyarugenge district, join the 3 newly locked down villages which were already and include;

It will remain in a lockdown, according to the Local Government Ministry, until it is found that there are no more Covid-19 in those areas.

“Village residents on lockdown are instructed to continue complying with the guidelines,” read the document.

“The implementation of these guidelines should be monitored by local authorities and security authorities. Citizens living in Rwanda are urged to continue to follow the recommendations for preventing the Covid-19 pandemic from spreading as provided by health institutions, “he added.

Six villages of Kigali City were on Thursday, June 25 put under a 15-day total Covid-19 lockdown in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus in other areas.

The order was declared by the Ministry of Local Government, stating that the decision was based on research.

“Based on an investigation carried out by the Ministry of Health on Covid-19 and some parts of Kigali City where the pandemic has been identified up to now, the following villages will be put under complete lockdown for at least 15 days,” read the ministry statement in sections.

This decision follows a trend in the identification of new positive cases in the region.

For example, in Kigali city alone twenty-one cases have been confirmed since June 21. The six villages put under lockdown are located in the districts of Nyarugenge and Kicukiro.

They include villages of Kamabuye and Zuba located in Nyarurama cell, in Kicukiro district of Kigarama Sector.

The villages of Kigarama and Gikondo Sectors Nyenyeri and Rugano were also placed under lockdown, respectively.

The two cells are Kadobogo and Gisenga, situated in Kigali City, Nyarugenge District, Kigali Sector.

According to the Local Government Ministry, during the 15-day lockout, all private and public employees working in the said areas are expected to operate from home.

In addition, movements between the six cells and other adjacent areas are forbidden, according to the rule, except for those with health reasons or other understandable issues.

The Ministry of Health and the City of Kigali will continue to track and see if it is appropriate to place any other locations under lockdown as well, the statement says.

Local leaders and security organs were also urged to follow-up the implementation of the new directives that came into effect immediately after release.

Rwanda so far has 850 confirmed cases, of whom 385 have recovered. The country has since mid-March, when the first case was reported in Rwanda, recorded two deaths.

Looking at recent updates on the pandemic in the country, current main Covid-19 hotspots are Rusizi and Kirehe districts, and Kigali City.

Religious groups have begun enforcing steps requested by the government to reopen places of worship.

Following the outbreak in mid-march of the Coronavirus pandemic, places of worship, as well as other gatherings involving mass gathering activities, were suspended as one of the steps to curb the spread of the virus.

The government has proposed five conditions after the lockdown has been lifted that would be observed if the places of worship are reopened. We visited numerous venerable sites to check if the provisions are being applied.

Attendance at the service

Some churches have stepped up the number of worship services to restrict large gatherings. For example in Kimironko, Foursquare Gospel Church can use a google tracking sheet to promote the process of touch tracing as well as to restrict the number of attendants.

“We have a form in google that will be used by any attendant to register before they come to church. This has a set number of users, and if you seek to register after the minimum approved number, you will automatically be moved to the next service, “explained Bishop Fidele Masengo.

In addition to using infrared thermometers at each entrance, he adds that three services will be held each Sunday to limit the number of people attending.

Offers

Many churches have switched from the usual offering of hands to use digital payments. Regina pacis’ Father Jean Bosco Ntagungira in Remera says all their followers have been urged to use digital payments.

“We have sensitized all members of our church to follow electronic payment methods because we are battling this pandemic,” he said.

Sanitation

Of all the places of worship visited by The New Ages, it was clear that all the hygiene measures were adhered to: all the chairs were labelled for use or not and there were washing facilities at all entrances.

Sheik Salim Hitimana, an adviser to the president of the Inter-religious Council of Rwanda said that before entering any place of worship all the faithful would be required to wash their hands.

Coronavirus UpdatePlaces of worship, religious wedding ceremonies as well as meetings and conferences in hotels are some of the services that are expected to resume as Rwanda continues to slowly reopen the economy, cautiously relaxing measures to contain New Coronavirus.

Ahead f opening, Religious organizations in Rwanda have been asked to make the necessary investment in Coronavirus Covid-19 preventive measures ahead of a possible reopening of places of worship in the next 15 days. The decision was announced in a statement from an extraordinary cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame on Tuesday, June 16 at Village Urugwiro. “Places of worship will remain closed. In the meantime investment in Covid-19 precautionary and preventive measures is encouraged to allow readiness for reopening within 15 days upon an epidemiological assessment,” reads parts of the statement. READ MORE…

The Ministry of local government in Rwanda on Thursday, June 11 announced that Nkombo island in Rusizi district is currently under total lockdown. The move was announced and informed because of an increase in the coronavirus Covid-19 infections that have been detected in the area recently.

“Nkombo is currently under total lockdown, in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the area,” Anastase Shyaka, the Minister for Local Government announced on his Twitter account.

According to the local government, Nkombo island follows four other sectors that have previously been put on total lockdown in Rusizi district. Last week, sectors including Nyakarenzo, Mururu, Kamembe and a part of Gihundwe were put under total lockdown and will remain out of contact with other parts of Rusizi and the country at large, as efforts continue to isolate cases that could be in communities. READ MORE…

Religious Organisations Re-opening SoonThe Rwanda Inter-religious council has pitched to the government a set of measures that religious organisations should put in place once the government decides to reopen religious gatherings. The development comes to a couple of days after the Government asked faith-based Organisations to present to it measures that they could use to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in worship places.

In response, on Thursday, June 11, the Inter-religious council submitted a statement to the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB). Signed by the Vice –President of the Rwanda Inter-Religious Council, Archbishop Dr Laurent Mbanda, the statement compiles various preventive measures to be observed to avoid the spread of the pandemic once restrictions on worship places are lifted. READ MORE…

President Museveni will consult with the National Covid-19 task force on Tuesday to decide on the fate of schools, places of worship and other institutions currently under lockdown.

This was announced on Saturday by President Yoweri Museveni during the national prayers held yesterday at State House Nakasero.

“We are talking. We will look at the colleges, churches and bars problem, and what we can do. We’ve found that if people are diligent we can handle the numbers. Things can be done but consistency is the issue, “Museveni said.

Faith leaders who took part in the national prayers asked the Government to lift the lockdown.

Pastor Joseph Sserwadda, the leader of the Born-Again Association of Churches, had previously told the President that churches are willing to open up and follow the guidelines.

“We’ve met numerous born again leaders and they’re willing to open up and obey the established SOPs. It’s time to lift the lockdown,’ Sserwadda said.

However, President Museveni asked Ugandans to stick to all of the SOPs.

“Most of our people have listened but some of the minority have not listened and that is why we have these events.

“Kampala is the richest in corona because they don’t listen. They don’t put on masks, they don’t social distance, they don’t believe that corona is there. Out of all the 29 deaths, 20 are from Kampala because they don’t listen,” President Museveni said.

The government has set September as a proposed month within which public schools can resume, after many months of closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, a disclaimer from the Prime Minister while appearing before parliament was that the reopening will only be guided by science.

The decision to halt schools was taken by the government on March 14 after confirming the country’s first Covid-19 case. The decision was in a bid to curb further spread of the pandemic.

On May 1, a cabinet meeting resolved that schools shall not reopen before September this year. Due to health measures deployed by the Ministry of Health, there are nearly 3.6 million students who are not in school with experts arguing that prolonged closure of schools could threaten gains made in the education sector.

School closures generally disrupt children’s learning and pose the risk of higher dropout rates for the most vulnerable, including girls and children from poor households, who are less likely to go back to school.

Teachers may be forced to leave the profession in search of other jobs, something that has already happened in some private schools that have been affected by the global epidemic of the Novel Coronavirus.

Petter Brodin, an Associate Professor of Immunology at the Sweden-based Karolinska Institutet says that fundamentally, it is very important to understand that all restrictions to reduce transmission comes with a price.

“Closing schools leads to massive negative consequences both for children and parents, loss of social context, educational loss, and parents unable to work,” he says.

Yet, as the government prepares to allow schools to reopen, there are concerns that the country that is still grappling with the pandemic, could find itself struggling to make the extra investment in dealing with the virus.

At worst, this is because most schools in the country are overcrowded, which could pose high risks of transmission of the virus to students and teachers or even parents.

Last week, for instance, the government of South Africa announced that public schools will close again for a month to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus as the country grapples with surging infections.

Rising infections have caused concern among teaching staff, with unions calling on the government to revoke its decision to reopen schools for certain grades in June.

“Cabinet has decided today that all public schools should take a break for the next four weeks,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday during an address to the nation, adding that the academic year that is due to end in December would be extended.

Last week, Members of Parliament also expressed concern over schools reopening in September as Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente addressed them on measures put in place by the government to contain the outbreak.

The question is now whether September is the right time for schools to resume.

Brodin suggests that every country has to figure out what is driving transmission in its specific context.

In Sweden, the transmission has mainly happened within families and at workplaces.

“Schools have been open throughout the pandemic as normal but with the exception that older kids (high school and University) have had distance learning programmes,” he notes.

“This is because the cost of keeping schools closed was deemed too high here. I think this was very good and we’ve not had more numbers of children or teachers with severe than Covid-19 as compared to other countries,” he adds.

Brodin insists that it has been extremely valuable to retain kids in schools, saying that it has made Sweden’s strategy much more sustainable than the lock-down of many other countries.

Edward Kabare, a headteacher at Nyagatare Secondary School in the Eastern Province thinks maintaining physical distancing measures for students will be the hardest task.

“Our smallest classroom has 40 students, but even then I don’t think you can get a one-metre distance. Let’s imagine you are able to do that, how do you tell students to keep physical distancing after school?” he says.

He doubts whether social distancing will particularly be possible for boarding schools like his, especially in accommodation facilities.

“For facemasks, it will be hard to maintain them for kids. If everyone was mature at least it would be easier to see that happening,” he notes.

The new normal

Based on the best medical advice available, schools will be asked to implement public health protocols to keep students and staff safe when they return to school in September.

It is likely that even when schools finally reopen, a school will never look entirely the same before the world witnessed the outbreak. Experts suggest that water and hygiene facilities will be the norm.

Physical distancing measures and the wearing of facemasks are highly recommended, and learning in shifts will be the new normal for most schools.

In Rwanda, the Government started implementing a plan last month that will see 22,505 classrooms completed in all 30 districts of the country by September this year.

The schools will help curb overcrowding and long distances travelled by students going to and returning from schools, according to the Ministry of Education.

According to Salafina Flavia, the Information, Education and Communication Specialist at the Ministry, there is a plan to conduct an awareness campaign at schools that will encourage students to respect health safety measures.

“There has been a lot of awareness from the Ministry of Health, which is guiding our decisions. We are planning the same campaign when schools reopen,” she says.

Kibungo University (UNIK), formerly known as Kibungo Institute of Agriculture, Technology and Education (INATEK), has been permanently shut down on administrative problems that have jeopardized the standard of education provided at the institution.

The decision to close the university based in the Eastern Province was taken by the Ministry of Education, following the university’s “comprehensive external examination” by the Higher Education Council (HEC) and subsequent meetings with both parties.

“Due to the failure of the Institute to comply with joint resolutions, the Ministry of Education regrets informing INATEK management that all academic operations are due to cease effective July 1 , 2020,” reads part of a letter signed by Valentine Uwamariya, Minister of Education.

The Minister gave up to two weeks to send a report to the Ministry of Education on how a range of measures were taken, including fulfilling all academic and financial obligations to students to enable alternative entry to other higher learning institutions to be pursued.

It was also asked to settle contractual obligations regarding the situation and other student- and staff-related matters.

Established in 2013, Kibungo University is one of the universities that witnessed last year’s biggest debt, including eight-month salary arrears for staff including lecturers.

In addition, the University leadership said it owes money to Eastern Province residents as well as many government agencies to the tune of Rwf2.5bn.

Prof. Egide Karuranga, the University’s vice-chancellor said these debts emerged because of the large number of shareholders taking money out of university rather than reinvesting it.

Nevertheless, lecturers accused administrators of incompetence at the university, adding that any person who heads the institution imposes their style of leadership and when it fails, it affects the university.

The university enrolled 4,500 students in 2004 but at the end of the last year had less than one thousand students.

In Rwanda, there are more than 3 million school leavers after the government has recommended schools close to prevent COVID-19 spread. The country has turned to one of its most accessible mediums, radio, in order to keep children learning.

UNICEF has documented over 100 world-wide radio scripts that can be modified to comply with Rwanda’s school curricula and based on fundamental literacy and counting. He then collaborated in the production and air of classes across the country with partners, including the Rwandan Broadcasting Agency.

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The Government will start charging citizens and organizations for COVID-19 to be evaluated effective September 1 , 2020.

According to the Ministry of Health, truck drivers, people wanting to know their COVID-19 status, government and public organizations, Ugandans returning from abroad, tourists from other countries will all be required to pay a fee of 240,500 Shillings for testing to be done.

All people who wish to do tests in government testing facilities are expected to deposit money into a COVID-19 account set up to raise money for the tests.

According to a statement released by the health ministry, the change aims to reduce the high expense incurred by the government to carry out tests for different classes.

Geoffrey Seremba, Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Health, says the fees collected would allow the ministry to conduct more disease testing.

” …Government has introduced a testing fee to address the many requests from organisations to have their staff tested amidst inadequate involuntary stocks of test kits, resource constraints and high cost of testing. The fee is a cost recovery mechanism that will enable the health ministry to acquire more test kits for continued access to testing services in the country,” Seremba said.

The Ministry adds that those who wish to go to private research labs can also access the Lancet, MBN or Medipal International Hospital test at an average cost of 300,000 Shillings.

The reforms come at a time when the country experiences a regular rise in COVID-19 incidents. 4000 tests equal to 962 million Shillings are conducted daily, according to the health ministry.

However, the health ministry says government will continue to pay for testing fees for people with COVID-19 symptoms present at health facilities, contacts of people who test positive for the disease and community survey participants. The government will also have to pay the health staff for research expenses.

Uganda had conducted more than 366,000 COVID-19 samples by yesterday.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergency Information and Risk Assessment Report published on Aug.26, Uganda recorded the highest percentage rise in new coronavirus disease (COVID 19) in Africa.

It is the second time Uganda has been featured among African countries in one week with the highest percentage rise in new registered COVID 19 cases.

Uganda posted the third-highest rise behind Eritrea and Rwanda in the week ending Aug. 19. But a week later they had been overshot by percentage rise in Uganda.

In the latest WHO reporting period, the three countries that reported the highest percentage increase (above 100%) include Uganda (184%), Rwanda (137%), and Comoros (100%).

During the earlier reporting period, Uganda with 290 news cases versus 110 in previous week, was among countries that reported the highest percentage increase but behind Eritrea (533%), Rwanda (464%).

According to the new data, the latest Uganda figures also show a marked rise of COVID 19 deaths in the country. In the earlier WHO report of Aug. 19, Uganda had just 19 deaths with a low case fatality ratio (CFR) of 0.9%.  By Aug.25 Uganda had recorded 26 COVID 19 deaths with a CFR of 1.0%. The death had risen to 28 by Aug.29. The total number of deaths reported in Africa is 20,787 reported in 45 countries, giving an overall case fatality ratio (CFR) of 2.0%.

Uganda has also featured new health-worker infections among countries. Once again, Uganda’s numbers are small at only seven new infections in a week to Aug.25, compared to a continental total of 214.

In the face of the rising numbers, on Aug. 27, President Yoweri Museveni declared a day of national prayer and released new directives from his ruling party, NRM, to politicians who were holding large gatherings in their constituencies as part of campaigns for the 2021 elections. The President said he would not now embrace politicians’ arguments that the crowds are gathering against their will.

“The order now is: “Do not put yourself in a situation where people gather around you.    If you do, we shall arrest you,” the President said in a long twitter message.

The President said, on account of the stringent measures, the government took early, nobody died, for four and a half months, until July 21 when the first person from Namisindwa district in eastern Uganda, by the name of Eunice Chematara, died in Mbale, in a private clinic.  Since that time, a total of 28 persons have died.  20 of them are from Kampala. The president said the deaths in Kampala are a result of “mis-education” by politicians claiming that COVID does not kill but is being used by Museveni to gag opposition political activity.

The President also announced a national day of prayers on Saturday 29 August “to seek divine help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Museveni said a person he didn’t name told him about a “vision” in which the president was to coordinate national prayers to help combat the deadly virus.

“A certain Ugandan came to me and told me that in a vision God had told him to organize scientifically organized National Prayers for God to save us from COVID 19,” tweeted Museveni.

“Therefore, by the powers given to the President of Uganda by Section 2(2) of the Public Holidays Act, I declare the 29th of August 2020, a day of National Prayers and a Public Holiday. Stay in your houses or compounds and pray,” he wrote.

Museveni is following a long list of leaders who, when faced with the COVID-19 threat and seeing few ways out of the fast spreading pandemic, have resorted to national prayers.

On March 14, U.S. President Donald Trump proclaimed March 15 a national day of prayer for all Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic and for America’s national response efforts.

“In our times of greatest need, Americans have always turned to prayer to help guide us through trials and periods of uncertainty,” Trump said, “I urge Americans of all faiths and religious traditions and backgrounds to offer prayers for all those affected, including people who have suffered harm or lost loved ones.”

The African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with the African Union’s Interfaith Dialogue Forum (IFDF) dedicated May 22 as a continental day of prayer against COVID-19.

“The Continental Prayer Day is aimed to rally African citizens, governments and non-state actors to intensify collaborative action towards curtailing the spread of COVID-19 and mitigating the socio-economic impacts of the disease, while strengthening the morals of the population to deal with the sanitary challenges and health haphazard caused by the COVID-19 pandemic since its outbreak early this year,” the AUC said.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta organized an inter-religious service on March 21 that marked a national day of prayer a week after disclosing her first case of coronavirus.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe proclaimed June 15 as the Presidential Day of Prayer and Fasting to seek divine help to tackle the outbreak of coronavirus. He urged Zimbabweans to come together, pray, fast and continue to follow required precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

President John Magufuli of Tanzania declared a three-day national prayer period from April 17 to 19 to help combat the novel coronavirus as recorded cases increased in the region.

Tanzania has not imposed any restrictions on movement or closed its borders. It has banned social gatherings and shut education institutions but left places of worship open. In June, Magufuli declared the country free from COVID-19 thanks to prayers to God.

The Ministry of Health is to begin accrediting private health facilities that plan to treat patients with COVID-19.

Over 100 private health care facilities have shown interest in treating the patients, according to the Ministry of Health.

Although some facilities were approved for collecting samples and even checking for the disease, none was permitted to take care of confirmed cases.

Dr Charles Olaro, the Director of Clinical Services at the Ministry of Health and also the head of treatment centers for COVID-19, says they have started the accreditation process.

Only government-funded health care facilities are officially approved to treat the disease.

In cases where a confirmed patient is admitted to a private health facility, the patient is referred to an agency of government. Just 16 hospitals in the country are certified to treat the illness.

If a private hospital is accredited, at any given time, it would need to separate more than 10 patients, have Intensive Care Unit facilities and a strong referral system in place.

Dr. Olaro says they would be stringent throughout the accreditation process and priority will be extended to the health facilities that fulfill the criteria.

Even the hospital should be spacious for treating and accepting non-COVID-19 patients.

“I don’t want to accredit a hospital with few health professionals who are going to be stressed out after a couple of days because they work 24 hours a day. A hospital will have to prove that they can have workers that can operate in shifts to prevent burning out, “explained Dr Olaro.

Grace Ssali Kiwanuka, the Uganda Healthcare Federation’s Executive Director, says the Ministry of Health is collaborating with private facilities to ensure they are able to participate in COVID-19.

She says health workers are being educated in private facilities on how to classify and isolate suspicious patients and also how to collect samples.

The UN Refugee Agency in Uganda expressed concern on Saturday after 22 aid workers and 72 refugees tested COVID-19 positive in the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement in western Uganda.

Rocco Nuri, a senior U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) external relations officer, said a team is already in the settlement to recognize and protect the most vulnerable people, particularly the elderly and those with the chronic illness.

“We remain concerned about the situation while recognizing that this is a global pandemic and does not discriminate,” Nuri said.

He said UNHCR will work with the ministry of health, national, district authorities and partners to build local capacities and systems to monitor, respond and contain the virus outbreak.

The government on Aug. 26 put Kyangwali under a lockdown, restricting movements and activities in the settlement, according to UNHCR. The settlement has already registered one COVID-19 death.

The settlement hosts about 120,000 refugees, primarily those who are escaping violence from the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the refugee agency.

As of August 28, Uganda had reported a total of 2,756 confirmed COVID-19 cases including 1,288 recoveries and 28 deaths, according to figures from the health ministry.

Easing restrictions is part of a government-adopted “coexistence plan” in recent weeks to maintain anti-coronavirus precautionary measures while resuming economic activity.

Egypt and China have worked together through the sharing of medical assistance and resources to combat the pandemic.

Egypt provided China with support in its war against COVID-19 in early February and China subsequently sent the North African country three batches of medical aid.

In Rusizi District 16 new Covid-19 cases have been identified among this district’s high-risk groups.

One case was registered in Kirehe District.

The world reported 15 new recoveries on the same day, bringing the toll to 1,698 for those who recovered from the pandemic.

The findings were derived from the last 24 hours of 3,306 sample tests carried out.
In total, 345,920 tests were carried out in the region.

To date, 10 people in Rwanda have succumbed to Covid-19.

The new steps recently announced by the management of King Faisal Hospital on access to the hospital would not hamper their ability to handle emergency cases, stated the hospital management.

The Hospital announced on Thursday, August 20, new restrictions on visiting hospitalized patients, as well as new patient admission procedures. They said the move was to increase their susceptibility to pandemic Covid-19. Among the new steps is that only two alternating caregivers who have tested negative for Covid-19 are allowed to visit a patient who is hospitalized.

Clarifying the initiatives, Prof Emmanuel Nkusi, a neurosurgeon and Head of Doctors at the hospital, told The New Times with verified cases in Kigali that the hospital has taken steps to reduce its vulnerability and thus preserve its capacity to provide services.

He added that the steps had been reported positively by a few hospital staff over the last weeks.

As with the steps, however, the hospital remains open to emergency patients and has developed procedures to ensure that they are handled without that vulnerability.

Among the changes at the facility include receiving emergency cases with the assumption that they are positive Covid-19. This will see them being handled by staff taking all necessary precautions, including masks, Personal Protective Equipment.

Nkusi said the emergency department was also updated to ensure that workers handling emergency cases are well secured and patients have no contact with the rest of the hospital.

Thereafter, a Covid-19 examination is included in the measures that must be required for patients to arrive. Patients found to be negative are usually treated and those found to be positive are referred to treatment centres.

Even the hospital is in the process of completing a major training exercise to further reduce the risk for all patients, staff and caregivers at the facility.

The cost of the testing is actually being taken care of by the hospital, although that is likely to change in the coming days on depletion of the currently available test kits with the costs likely to be passed to patients.

Nkusi allayed fears that the new measures would hamper services delivery noting that if anything, it would improve the confidence in the facility as there will be adequate measures to manage the pandemic.

The measures are in line with the Ministry of Health guidelines as well as the World Health Organisation.

Rwanda announced 109 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, August 22, the highest since mid-March when the country first confirmed the pandemic.

Kigali remains a hotspot for the pandemic according to the latest report from the Ministry of Health.

Kigali markets held the largest number of new infections, with 81 people testing positive for the pandemic, as it has been since the start of this week.

In addition, Rusizi district reported 24 cases of Covid-19 found in the district’s high-risk categories.

Rwanda announced 109 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, August 22, the highest since mid-March when the country first confirmed the pandemic.

Kigali remains a hotspot for the pandemic according to the latest report from the Ministry of Health.

Kigali markets held the largest number of new infections, with 81 people testing positive for the pandemic, as it has been since the start of this week.

In addition, Rusizi district reported 24 cases of Covid-19 found in the district’s high-risk categories.

On Thursday, random Covid-19 testing returned to the streets of Kigali as the Ministry of Health looks to generate the latest data on the prevalence of the virus in town.

According to a statement from the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC), the fresh campaign will reach all of the city’s districts beginning on Thursday, August 20, and is intended to help the medics recognize the severity of the pandemic in the Region.

It will be the second time this training takes place.

Earlier, the government carried out a similar campaign in different parts of the city in early July, during which nearly 5,000 people were screened.

The campaign addresses mainly streets of randomly chosen communities. This is done willingly.

An individual’s testing exercise can take on average about five minutes, and the results can be obtained in about 48 hours.

All evaluations are complimentary. Nonetheless, a test could cost around $50, (if payments were considered).

Throughout the campaign, the RBC called on citizens of the city to work with the medics.

“All residents, drivers and pedestrians of the City of Kigali are kindly requested to cooperate with (our) personnel and security officers deployed on test sites in order to complete this critical operation successfully,” reads a statement by RBC.

Recently, in the city of Kigali, an upsurge has taken place in Covid-19, accounting for the largest portion of record cases that the country has registered since about last week.

Rwanda has reported a record high of 444 cases in the last six days and a whopping 356 of these were from Kigali.

Some reported cases in the city have been identified alongside Kigali City Market in reported high-risk areas like the Nyabugogo market and (which has recently been closed).

Unlike Nyabugogo Market, commonly known as Kwa Mutangana, the city market was also closed for a week as the government tries to monitor the sudden rise in new Kigali infections.

The confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country are at 2,644, according to the latest figures published by RBC on Wednesday, August 19. Of these, 1,698 have recovered, while the pandemic has given way to en men.

Rwanda reported two new Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, August 18, which raised the death toll attributed to the pandemic to 10.

The Health Ministry said in a statement that the deceased were both Rwandans.

“Condolences to the families of two Rwandans, 45 and 55 who died today,” reads the statement issued Tuesday evening.

On the same day, 37 new Covid-19 cases and 22 recoveries were reported in the region.

Of the new cases, 28 were found among contacts of successful cases and high-risk groups in Kigali.

According to the Ministry of Health, people working in Nyabugogo and Nyarugenge markets and some ministries have so far been listed in high-risk categories.

Since Monday the two markets and nearby shops have been closed for a seven-day period, in an attempt to prevent further spread of the pandemic.

Six new cases were also found in the Rusizi district, while one Covid-19 case was registered in the Rwamagana, Huye, and Rubavu districts respectively.

The results were obtained from the last 24 hours of 4,326 sample tests carried out.

In total, the country has so far carried out 342,614 sample tests.

Cumulatively, the country has recorded 2,577 cases out of which 1,683 have already recovered and discharged.

Rwanda reported 87 new Covid-19 cases on Monday 17 August, of which 59 were found in Kigali among tests carried out on the Nyabugogo sector.

Recently, the Ministry of Health said Nyabugogo and Nyarugenge markets and some ministries are the City’s currently leading hotspots of this Virus.

As a result, the City of Kigali put a lockout on all markets and neighbouring shops on effective Monday to prevent Covid-19 from spreading.

In Rusizi district, 25 new cases of Covid-19 were also identified among high-risk groups of this district, according to the daily Covid-19 report.

The districts of Huye and Nyamasheke have upheld two cases and one case, respectively.

The country registered 13 new recoveries on the same day, bringing the number of those who have recovered from the world’s pandemic to 1,661.

The findings were collected from 4,018 sample tests performed over the last 24 hours, according to the Ministry of Health.

In total, the Covid-19 confirmed case tall for Rwanda stands at 2,540.

Since mid-March, the country has performed 338,288 Covid-19 sample studies and has a record of eight people succumbing to the pandemic.

On Sunday, August 16, the Minister of Health, Dr Daniel Ngamije noted that tests within all markets in Kigali and other high-risk zones will kick off this week to determine the next steps which may as a last resort see the imposing of another lockdown.

Rwanda confirmed 101 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday 16 August, of which 80 were detected in Kigali.

The new cases reported in the City have been identified among high-risk zones like Nyabugogo sector, according to the Ministry of Health.

In addition, nine cases were confirmed each in districts of Rusizi and Rubavu.

Two cases of Covid-19 were also recorded in Nyamasheke District while one positive case was registered in Huye District.

The country announced 13 new recuperations on the same day, bringing the number of those who recovered from the pandemic to 1,648.

The findings were collected from the last 24 hours of 4,796 sample tests carried out.

Earlier in the day, health minister Dr. Daniel Ngamije noted that the 151 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last two days are mostly people from the markets of Nyarugenge and Nyabugogo (kwa Mutangana) plus a few from the ministries of the country.

As a result, the two markets and nearby shops will be under a 7-day lockdown effective Monday, August 17.

As of mid-March, Rwanda’s number of confirmed Covid-19 cases has stood at 2,453.

The country has carried out a total of 334,270 Covid-19 sample tests.

The Minister of Health said that tests within all the markets in Kigali and other high-risk zones will kick off this week to determine the next steps which may as a last resort see the imposing of another lockdown.

The upsurge in Covid-19 cases in Rwanda continued, as the country reported 200 new cases in a single day on Sunday and crossed the 3,000-mark of confirmed cases.

This is the third time it has broken the local record with the highest new cases reported in a single day in the last ten days.

The Rwanda Biomedical Center has documented a high number of new cases in its daily update since August 14, with Kigali being the epicentre of the increase in cases.

Cumulatively, 889 new cases have been registered in the world in the last ten days, a number that is far higher than all of the medicines provided since the pandemic was first registered in March this year on Rwandan soil.

Cases from 6,402 studies carried out by the Rwanda Biomedical Centre were observed on Sunday.

One death was registered on the same day taking the total number of deaths related to Covid-19 to 12 in the world.

The deceased had been identified as “a 71-year-old Rwandan,” according to the Ministry of Health.

Scientifically, advanced-age people are more vulnerable to the virus.

Of the 200 new positive cases, 164 were from Kigali – from city markets that have been undergoing mass testing.

29 were from Rusizi, confirmed from high-risk groups; while 5 were from Rubavu, and 2 from. Huye.

Altogether, Rwanda has a total of 3,089 confirmed cases of the virus.

Of these, 1,755 have recovered, while 1,322 are still undergoing treatment in specific centres in the country.

Nyabugogo Market (commonly known as Kwa Mutangana) and Nyarugenge City Market will close for one week with effect from Monday, August 17 as the government seeks to control a sudden spike in new infections in Kigali.

The decision comes after the government said that the 253 people in the country who have tested positive for Covid-19 since Friday are mostly people from the markets of Nyarugenge and Nyabugogo (Kwa Mutangana) plus a few from the ministries of the land.
The Mayor of Kigali City, Prudence Rubingisa, said in a letter dated August 16 that those who operate in this market, especially those who sell perishables, will be given time to remove their stock and relocate to another market.

“The leadership of both markets will inform those who sell perishables what their next area of operation will be. We would like to inform you that these two areas that you are vacating will be disinfected and those who operate there will continue to be tested,” he said.

Appearing on Sunday evening on talk show on the national broadcaster, Rubingisa said there is weak attitude towards following the basic guidelines requiring one to wash their hands regularly, wear mask and maintain social distance. 
“The problem right now, in our study, is a poor attitude. The mentality we are going to see out here is that of complacency. In the markets, people ignore the spots marked to ensure social distancing, meaning they won’t wash their hands if no one is there to insist and they will remove their masks where police are not present, “he said.
On the same show, Health Minister Dr Daniel Ngamije said that testing will kick off this week in all markets in Kigali and other high-risk areas to determine the next steps that may see the imposition of another lockdown as a last resort.  He recalled that the government will not sit by as the pandemic widely spreads, outweighing its ability to deal with it.
“A lockdown is a hard but possible decision. People need to know that if the numbers continue to rise, there are some hard decisions that will have to be made. We are this week doing tests in all City of Kigali markets and the outcome will determine the next steps,” he said.
Police spokesman CP John Bosco Kabera said the steps to shield yourself from Covid-19 would be different now than it was during the lockdown due to people’s influxes.
Practically all businesses are open. Local officials, volunteers, and other security staff are in attendance. There is a need to sit down and revise how these guidelines can be enforced collectively,” he said.

Health Minister Dr. Daniel Ngamije said that tests for COVID-19 will kick off this week in all markets in Kigali and other high-risk areas to assess the next measures that could see the implementation of another lockdown as a last resort.

Speaking to us, Ngamije said this on Sunday, August 16, 2020, as he appeared on the national broadcaster, where he was on a panel to discuss the next steps in coping with the Covid-19 new infections’ recent increase.

He was joined by the Minister of State in charge of social affairs, Ignatienne Nyirarukundo; the City of Kigali Mayor, Prudence Rubingisa; and the National Police Spokesman, CP John Bosco Kabera, to discuss new steps to counter Covid-19.

“A lockdown is a hard but possible decision. People need to know that if the numbers continue to rise, there are some hard decisions that will have to be made. We are this week doing tests in all City of Kigali markets and the outcome will determine the next steps,” he said.

He told the government of not sitting by while the pandemic spreads massively, outweighing its ability to deal with it.

Ngamije explained that at the moment an exercise to trace all the infected ‘s contacts continues to add that the behaviour of the masses and the numbers will contribute to how the government will move forward.

New vaccine

Ngamije touched on the introduction of a Covid-19 vaccine on the world market where he said that Rwanda was closely following the development.

“We are in talking terms with some institutions that work on vaccines. If the vaccine goes on the market and is approved by the World Health Organisation, we are among the countries that they would like to work with because of our solid health system,” he said.

Market guidelines revamped

The state minister in charge of social affairs, Ignatienne Nyirarukundo, said the campaign will be upped in the next few weeks to encourage strict hand washing, wearing masks and social distancing.

In addition to the guidelines, new measures will be put in place to substantially reduce traffic within the markets.

“We have considered all options, including temporarily taking the markets to the outskirts of Kigali where there is more space for people to observe social distancing,” she said.

Kabera said that the measures of protecting oneself from Covid-19 should be different now than it was during the lockdown due to the influx of people.

Almost all businesses are open. There are local leaders, volunteers and other security personnel. There is a need to sit down and revise how these guidelines can be enforced collectively,” he said.

Poor attitude

Mayor Rubingisa said local leaders and other Rwandans need to push those who don’t follow guidelines into doing so.

“We need to own this pandemic fight. This is not just police service. People just seem to think when someone reminds them of authority. Our joint goal will be this.

Rwanda announced 11 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, August 13, taking the number of positive cases to 2,200 as of mid-March.

Of the new cases, nine were detected among contacts of positive cases in Kigali, according to the Ministry of Health.

Only one case from Nyamasheke District was registered while another case was confirmed in Rubavu District.

The country’s reported 34 new recoveries on the same day.

The results were obtained from the last 24 hours of 4,756 sample tests carried out.

In total, 319,295 Covid-19 sample tests were carried out in Rwanda and 1,558 recovered cases reported.

Covid-19 death in the country remains at eight people.

Rwanda reported a record 86 Covid-19 recoveries in a single day on Tuesday, August 11th  the highest since the country confirmed the pandemic.

The first case in Rwanda was confirmed by mid-March. So far the tally of recovered cases in the country stands at 1,478.

Rwanda reported 19 new cases on the same day according to the Ministry of Health.

According to the health ministry, of the new cases, 10 were confirmed in Kigali among contacts of positive cases and tests performed in high-risk groups of Kigali.

In addition, 6 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed among returning residents in Rubavu district who were isolated upon arrival.

One of the remaining three cases were identified in district Rusizi while another in district Gicumbi was confirmed.

The latest Covid-19 results have been obtained from the last 24 hours of 5, 153 sample tests conducted.

The country has carried out 309,653 Covid-19 tests in all.

So far, the nation has seen seven people succumbing to Covid-19.

The deceased include, according to the Ministry of Health, those who did not receive treatment on time, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

Rwanda on Tuesday, July 28, reported 47 new Covid-19 cases and 30 recoveries, bringing the tally of recovered cases to 1,005 against 916 active cases. The results were obtained from 3,521 sample tests conducted Tuesday.

According to the Ministry of Health, of the new cases, 36 were reported in Kigali among residents of villages under lockdown and contacts of positive cases.

Though Kigali is currently the leading hotspot of this pandemic in the country since the end of last month, Dr Nsanzimana recently told The New Times that preventive measures should be observed everywhere by everyone so as to contain it.

He said: “Covid-19 is likely to move where people move most, Kigali is an example. However, all other provinces had cases and could be affected. Therefore, it is everyone’s responsibility to wear masks all time in public, keep a meter distance and wash hands so we can stop this virus until we get a vaccine.”

On the same day, 5 new cases were detected in Rusizi district, four in Nyamasheke district and two others confirmed in Rulindo district.

Since the outbreak of this pandemic in the country by mid-March, the country has recorded a total of 1,926 Covid-19 cases.

The pandemic has also claimed the lives of five people, two of whom being peacekeepers serving on a UN mission.

In total, the country has so far conducted 251,815 Covid-19 sample tests.

In a bid to further contain the pandemic in the country, Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) announced that Community Health Workers (CHWs) will soon be engaged in the Coronavirus treatment process.

This development, according to RBC, was adopted due to the significant role played by the community health workers in reducing Malaria deaths in the country.

Training is also in the pipeline for these CHWs.

Rwanda, on July 24, discharged 11 new coronavirus patients after full recovery, bringing the Covid-19 overall recovery count to 900.

According to the Ministry of Health’s daily update on Covid-19, the same day also saw 19 new coronavirus cases identified, bringing the tally of confirmed cases to 1,729 total.

The 19 new cases included 12 from Kigali, five from Rusizi District, one from Nyamasheke District and one from Kirehe District.

Friday results were drawn from 2,491 samples tested in 24 hours, whereas the country has conducted 233,677 total sample tests since the outbreak of the global pandemic.

Five people have so far succumbed to the virus in Rwanda, two of which were peacekeepers serving on a UN mission.

The global track of coronavirus stands at 15,842,118 infections, of which 9,649,208 have recovered and 639,892 have succumbed to the virus.

The second round of compulsory clinical testing for Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in Amuru District has been recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). The recommendation follows a situation assessment conducted by a team of case management consultants led by Dr. Michael Mawanda to devise stringent measures for infection prevention and infectious disease control that are transmitted through contact person to person.

Since March 2020 Uganda has reported as many as 1,069 cumulative patients with over 1,000 recoveries. Dr Mawanda said several loopholes that threaten the fight against the virus in Elegu have been detected by a team of WHO consultants who were integrated into risk communication, infection prevention control and surveillance specialists.

Amid a rise in population transmission in Amuru, an epitome of the virus, the consultants have already flagged their results to the National COVID-19 Task Force for consideration, according to Dr Mawanda.

Amuru District Health Officer Dr Patrick Odong Olwedo says that since interventions launched in March, the authorities have intercepted up to 125 positive cases of COVID-19 in Elegu. Over 70 of these were long-distance truck drivers, 58 community members including 28 security staff and four individuals who sneaked through the porous border points of entry.

Amuru Deputy Resident District Commissioner Geoffrey Osborn Oceng informed URN that they agreed to provide mandatory group screening pending the Government’s availability of test kits.

But despite the threat, life in Elegu and urban centres along the great north highway to South Sudan has returned to normal with roadside bars and boda-boda riders operating in contravention of the Ministry of Health guidelines.

The task force of Kitgum Covid-19 is to set up a screening centre at a porous border point with South Sudan to counter COVID-19 spread.

The screening centre will be set up at the village of Lucom in Orom Sub County with the help of non-governmental organization RHITES North Acholi. South Sudanese from Torit State frequently visits the area to enter and exit Uganda into Kitgum and Karenga in Karamoja region.

William Komakech, Kitgum Resident District Commissioner, says there have been increasing concerns about the infiltration of unscreened South Sudanese from Torit State through Orom Sub County entering the District.

He says a booming illicit cross-border trade in cheaply sold crude waragi in Lucom village attracts several South Sudanese who travel into the district using Boda Bodas.
Komakech says the trend is likely to put the district and its locals at risk, given that the COVID-19 cases in South Sudan are on the rise with 2,200 cases of COVID-19 registered and 43 deaths so far.

Komakech says the district will provide protection for medical staff living in the region to keep them safe from threats from armed intruders from attacks by both South Sudanese and Karamojong. He adds that some of the items at the centre will include infrared thermometers, hand gloves, sanitizers, and facial masks.

His assurance follows the concern of the Kitgum District Surveillance Focal Point individual, Simon Knox Okongo, who noted that the area is unsafe and bushy, and thus risky for health workers.

Okongo suggested that the screening centre be moved a few kilometres away from the proposed screening cite to Akilok trading centre in order to minimize security risks.

“Operationalizing the area has become very difficult because the area is bushy and very difficult to take personnel. We have suggested that of its possible, we ferry the screening items bought by RHITES North Acholi to Akilok trading centre which is safer”

Okongo says the area also consists of locals who hold dual national Identity Cards for Uganda and South Sudan which poses difficulty in identifying them.

But Komakech insisted that the screening centre won’t be moved to Akilok trading centre citing it won’t serve its function of curbing those sneaking into the country.

For example, in June this year, Lucom village LCI chairman Charles Opira was arrested by police for allegedly aiding the entry of a Torit state South Sudanese.

Dr Geoffrey Okello, the acting medical superintendent at Kitgum General Hospital, welcomed the decision but states that the issue remains whether the health workers will be remunerated at the proposed screening centre for their services.

The task force also re-established the Pager roundabout surveillance team in Pager Division to monitor truck drivers and motorists, almost two months after they were withdrawn on allegations of corruption.

Until now, the district of Kitgum has reported 179 COVID-19 suspects in quarantine, two of whom tested positive. Currently, the three quarantine centres at St Joseph’s Kitgum Hospital, Kitgum General Hospital, and Pandwong Health Center III are all vacant.

The Ministry of Health has discharged 825 Ugandans and legal residents from institutional quarantine who recently returned to the country.

They are among the 995 Ugandans and legal residents who had been stranded overseas after border and airport closures to stop coronavirus disease from spreading. From South Africa, Ireland, the United Kingdom and India among others, they arrived in the country between June 22 and July 11.

Most of the returnees were discharged between Friday night and all Saturday after testing COVID-19 negative. A number of them had launched protests against the Ministry of Health for delaying their release even after the mandatory quarantine of 14 days had been completed.

One of the returnees told Uganda Radio Network-URN that he was happy to go home after stuck in Chad where he had worked at an oil and gas firm for a short term contract. Because of COVID-19’s adverse effect on businesses, the organization sent all staff on leave and flew their expatriates to Addis Abeba where they would get connecting flights to their home countries afterwards.

As a result, the returnee says he left Chad in early June and stayed in Addis Ababa , Ethiopia for close to a month before getting an available flight to Uganda on July 2. He, however, decries the costs and inconveniences that came with the journey. For the airfare, he charged 6.4 million Shillings.

“I had spent about four million Shillings in Ethiopia on visa fees, feeding and hotel costs when I came to Uganda. So I was searching for a low-cost hotel where I can pay up to 2.5 million Shillings for quarantine in Uganda. “As a result, he claims he’s spent more than 10 million Shillings on a trip from Chad to Uganda.

Dr Richard Mugahi, the National Coordinator for Quarantine Centres at Ministry of Health says the ministry will follow up on the concerns of returnees who have been discharged from quarantine. He adds that another 170 returnees who came back two weeks ago have not yet completed quarantine while some of them are in the hospital as suspects with COVID-19 symptoms and others have the virus

Since Uganda started receiving returnees, 34 have tested positive for COVID-19. The returnees were from Afghanistan, India, South Africa, DR Congo and South Sudan. Another group of more than 500 Ugandans returned yesterday from the United States of America, the Caribbean and Qatar.

The Ministry of Health said on Monday, July 20, that since the first case of the virus was confirmed in Rwanda, the government has spent $60 million (over Rwf54 billion) to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

This was revealed in a press conference bringing together journalists, the Ministries of Health, Local Government, Trade and Industry and the National Police of Rwanda to shed light on how the country is responding to Covid-19.

In response to how much money the government has spent on responding to the pandemic so far, Health Minister Dr Daniel Ngamije explained that the cost is in millions of dollars as of now.

He said: “Fighting the virus has been very costly for the government, given, among other things, the different things like monitoring, isolating, treating, facilities and human resources that all entail finances.”

“In March, the government had predicted spending $73 million to combat the pandemic over a span of six months, and we have invested $60 million so far,” he said.

The minister also noted that the pandemic not only affected government spending but also interfered with revenue sources. So far Rwanda has reported a total of 1,582 Covid-19 cases, 834 of which have recovered. Five people have succumbed to the pandemic so far, too.

Rwanda recorded her fifth Covid-19 death on Saturday 18 July. The deceased was a woman, who was 88 years old.  “Condolences to the 88-year-old woman’s family who passed away at Nyamasheke,” the health ministry said in its daily pandemic update.

Although the Ministry has not provided more details on the fatality, it has been shown that elderly people are more vulnerable to Covid-19 because of the weakness of their immune systems vis-à – vis the Virus.

The fourth person in the country to succumb to this pandemic was 78.  The other three deaths included a truck driver who lived in a neighbouring country and returned only in critical condition to Rwanda before he passed away.

According to the Ministry of Health, the second and third deaths were military personnel serving in Rwandan peacekeeping contingents abroad, including a 24-year-old policewoman and a 51-year-old Rwandan Defense Force (RDF) soldier.

Meanwhile, Rwanda also reported 54 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, 35 of which were reported from the district of Nyamasheke in cells that had recently been locked down, 9 detected in the district of Rusizi, 7 in Kigali and three confirmed in Kirehe.

The country has also recorded 8 recoveries from the last 24 hours of 3,232 sample tests taken.  In all, since mid-March, Rwanda has reported 1,539 cases, of which 819 have recovered

If all steps of Covid-19 containment are observed in both public and individual communities, the pandemic will be suppressed. Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, Director-General of the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC), confirmed the development in an interview with us on Friday 17 July.

Dr Nsanzimana explained that a recent graph from the Ministry of Health that has accumulated figures for the past four months (March 14- July 13) since the first case of coronavirus was reported in the country showed signs of improvement in the fight against the pandemic.

There has been a steady decrease in the probability of transmitting the infectious disease among the public according to the study that showed estimates on the trend of the amount of virus replication.

According to epidemiologists, the simple reproduction number (Ro) is a measure of how likely an infectious disease, like Covid-19, can be transmitted from one human to another. In other words, Ro reflects the mean number of new cases that a new confirmed case generates.

Globally, each country is registering the current pandemic status. This is measured by looking at how infectious disease is contagious or transmissible. It is expressed in the base reproduction number (Ro) in most countries.

According to the epidemiologists, the outbreak is likely to die out if that number is less than one. But if the figure is more than one, then there is a risk of increasing the number of instances.

However, in the context of Rwanda, a report presented to the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that the figure is currently less than one, (.9 to be specific).

Dr Nsanzimana believes that the disease is controllable in this respect. Testing has thus far been one of the measures strengthened in a bid to defeat the virus since the outbreak spread in the country. For example, over 200,000 tests were carried out over the past four months with a median of 1368 tests recorded per day.

On the other hand, in an effort to further decentralize and contain pandemic testing, the government has established eight satellite testing laboratories that have a capacity to test over 1000 tests per day.

What do demographics indicate?

Furthermore, it is apparent from the four-month study that men hold up a greater proportion of infections (79 per cent) while women account for the remainder of the proportion (21 per cent). Therefore one can argue that male infections are about four times more than females.

In addition, demographics also indicate that a larger percentage of cases (92 per cent) are for people over 50 years of age, with 78 per cent of the total cases in the 40-year-old population and above, while those over 30 accounts for 49 per cent of the total cases.

Some of the high-risk zones, according to the Ministry of Health, include markets, shops, hotels, banks among other places that attract many people.

The public was therefore called upon to practice the protective steps, including social distancing, daily hand washing and wearing a face mask in both public and private homes.

A new Covid-19 research laboratory has been set up in Rusizi City, which Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) says would directly help to control the Covid-19 pandemic in Western Province.

“Gihundwe District Hospital Covid-19 testing lab is fully set up and operational,” tweeted on Wednesday, June 24, Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, RBC Director-General.

He added: “RBC laboratory technicians have been mobilized to train the local laboratory technicians.”

The latest lab will conduct 500 sample samples a day according to Nsanzimana.

The establishment of this lab follows a series of high numbers of positive cases being detected in Rusizi District since the beginning of June this year.

Highlighting the advantages of the new Covid-19 testing laboratory, Nsanzimana explained that the whole western province will benefit from it.

“Evacuation of confirmed Covid-19 patients will now be accelerated, provided that findings from sample testing will be collected at a closer location,” he said.

“The laboratory will also help the entire Western Province in this regard, and the neighboring countries in addition, though this lies in both countries’ understanding,” he added.

Previously, sample samples would be taken from the district of Rusizi and carried to Kigali for testing at the National Reference Laboratory, which would prolong the process of identifying verified patients and recoveries to assist them accordingly.

The move is also in line with the country’s goal of growing its testing capability. Recently, the Rwanda Biomedical Center noted that the testing ability of Rwanda has increased fifteenfold over the past four months and has been extended across the world.

More efforts to curb the area’s pandemic

Rusizi remains the largest Covid-19 hotspot with a total of 830 confirmed cases in Rwanda as of 24 June.

In order to avoid further spread of this virus in neighbouring districts, five Rusizi sectors are totally lockdown and travel to and from this district is still prohibited.

Additionally, powerful command posts have been deployed to control the pandemic in that area in all districts neighboring Rusizi, says Nsanzimana.

Rwanda announced 101 new positive Covid-19 cases on Monday 29 June taking the number of confirmed cases to 1,001 against 443 recoveries.

During the last 24 hours, the latest report was collected from 2,498 sample tests performed.

Among the latest reports, 22 are from Kigali, three from the district among Rusizi, two from the district of Rubavu, one from the district of Kayonza and another from the district of Kirehe, according to the health ministry.

The remaining 72 new cases have been identified from a Ngoma district detention centre as per the Ministry, and are related to Rusumo cases.

The country has performed a total of 140,249 sample tests since mid-March when the first case was registered in Rwanda and confirmed two deaths.

A cabinet meeting is set to take place this week to determine whether new policies will be included in the effort to curb the country’s pandemic.

After 15 new patients were discharged from Covid-19 treatment centres on Saturday, June 27, Rwanda’s coronavirus recovery count reached 413.

According to the Ministry of Health’s daily Covid-19 report, in the last twenty-four hours, 20 new cases have been reported taking the number of active cases to 463.

Of the new cases, 15 were found in Rusizi, 3 in Rubavu and 2 in Kigali.

From 4,702 sample samples, the most recent findings were drawn. Rwanda has performed 134,749 studies nationally since the pandemic erupted in mid-March.

878 cases have been confirmed as positive from these studies, of which 413 have recovered and two people have succumbed to the virus.

The ongoing cases found in Kigali led the Local Government Ministry to enforce a complete lockdown starting on Thursday in six neighbourhoods in the capital.

Globally, the cases of coronavirus have exceeded 10 million, 5.4 million of which have recovered and nearly half a million have succumbed.

After the positive diagnosis of 22 new cases from tests carried out on Sunday, June 28, the confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) diagnosed on Rwandan territory reached the 900-mark.

Even on the same day, 30 patients discharged from the Covid-19 care centres raised the number of recoveries from coronavirus to 443 against 455 active cases.

According to Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, Rwanda Biomedical Center’s Director-General, 21 of those discharged had sought treatment at a Rusizi District hospital.

The new findings have been taken from 3,002 sample experiments while the cumulative studies conducted since the start of the pandemic are 137,751.

In a daily update by the Ministry of Health on the pandemic, it was noted that of the new cases: eight were from Rusizi, seven from Rubavu, six from the capital Kigali and one from the district of Kirehe.

Although the cases may increase in Rwanda, the Robert Koch Institute announced last week that Rwanda is no longer a risk area for Covid-19 due to efforts in the country to contain the virus.

Mass testing and general measures to combat the virus are among the efforts in place, including regular hand washing, maintaining social distance, and wearing facemasks among others.

Local government ministry on Thursday placed six villages in Kigali city under complete lockdown after five Rusizi district sectors.

Globally, the cases of coronavirus have reached 10 million, 5.5 million of which have recovered and more than half a million have succumbed.

 Coronavirus Police in the City of Kigali Rwanda arrested 17 people for allegedly violating government directives meant to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19). Those arrested include three who entered into the country from Uganda through an illegal border entry and two others, who had travelled to Kigali from Rusizi district in Rwanda.

All Rwanda Borders are closed and no one is allowed to go or leave Rusizi and Rubavu districts that are under total lockdown, as per the government directives, following the spike of cases from the western border districts. Only cargo vehicles are permitted to commute to or through these districts and borders.

Furthermore, 12 other people were arrested on Saturday for violating the curfew, with some of them found driving while drunk. Others were operating bars and those found drinking in these bars. Vedaste Uwabarengeye, who had travelled to Kigali from Rusizi, said that in the wee hours of June 13, he sneaked into Nyamasheke District from Rusizi, where he boarded a vehicle to Kigali. READ MORE…

Rwanda on Sunday, June 14, 2020, carried out over 3,495 Coronavirus tests, the highest to be conducted in a day since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak three months ago. From these tests, there were 41 positive cases of Coronavirus Covid-19, which brought the count of confirmed cases in the country to 582.

Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the Director-General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre noted that “Most of the new cases are household members of previously confirmed Covid-19 positive in Rusizi”, he tweeted. Rusizi has emerged as the new hotspot for the virus, a spike that is attributed to cross-border traders from DR Congo. Kamembe town, in Rusizi, is the largest concentration of cases in the region, has been put under total lockdown. READ MORE…

Rwanda CoronavirusRwanda on Tuesday confirmed five new Coronavirus COVID-19 cases, taking the tally of infected persons to 75. The new cases include four recent travellers from Dubai and another contact of a previously confirmed positive case,” the Ministry of Health announced. Authorities in a daily update late Tuesday added that all the new cases had been isolated.

The development came a day after health authorities said they had recorded no case on Monday, March 30, only the second time this had happened since the country announced its first COVID-19 case on March 13. The health ministry said all the confirmed cases were under treatment and in a stable condition. READ MORE…

On Monday, June 15, 2020, Rwanda reported 30 new Coronavirus Covid-19 cases, bringing the tally of confirmed cases to 612 since mid-March when the country registered her first case. According to the Ministry of Health, the new cases are linked to the Rusizi and Rusumo clusters, as well as repatriated Rwandans. On the same day, six (6) Covid-19 patients were discharged from treatment centres after recovery. The new cames were from 2,908 sample tests conducted over the last 24 hours. In total, the country has carried out 94,059 sample tests of Covid-19 coronavirus and recorded two deaths. READ MORE…

According to Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Rwanda is currently carrying out an assessment that will establish whether the resumption of inter-provincial movements and passenger taxi-moto services have had an impact on the prevalence of Covid-19 in the country.

Rwanda’s new Mobile Lab unit was set to will increase its COVID-19 testing capacity hence strengthening the quick response to the pandemic. Rwanda received the equipment from the East African Community in April 2020 and the mobile lab will make easy COVID-19 testing countrywide.

“This lab will almost double our COVID-19 testing capacity and its mobile nature will facilitate mass testing throughout the country,” says the Director-General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Dr Sabin Nsanzimana.

The uniquely-fitted vans are equipped to carry out the same function as a laboratory, a great addition to increase the number of samples tested per day using the available 3 testing equipment. Sampling and testing units will be deployed nationwide to all priority districts with suspected COVID-19 Coronavirus cases which will as well reduce on the turnaround time since samples will not be transported to Kigali first.

The mobile laboratory is equipped with test kits and personal protective gear including gloves, gowns, masks, goggles and shoe protectors. The mobile labs will focus on sampling a range of specimens for Polymerase chain reaction (PCR). READ MORE…

President Kagame Cheers the COVID19 Joint Task Force The President of Rwanda, His Excellency Paul Kagame applauded the COVID_19 Coronavirus Joint Task Force during his visit to the over 400 professionals from across sectors who teamed up to coordinate activities aimed at ending the spread of  COVID_19. “I am here to thank you for your commitment and dedication. You are serving selflessly, even with the knowledge that the work you are doing could have consequences on your health,” said President Kagame during his visit on 12 April 2020.

“I know that you are doing this out of selflessness, love for your country and with professionalism. All of this makes me grateful to each of you,” applauded the President.

The leader promised that the Government of Rwanda will keep doing everything possible to support the Joint Task Force so that Rwandans can return to their normal lives. President Kagame as well as commended the lockdown for helping in preventing COVID-19 spread hence containing the pandemic. READ MORE…

Rwanda National Reference Laboratory Earns High Standard AccreditationApril will be memorable for Rwanda’s National Reference Laboratory (NRL), despite the overwhelming work of testing for COVID-19 samples, the International Standards Organization accreditation (ISO115189) finally came home on 04 April 2020 after years of hard work towards achieving the high-level recognition.

The procedure of accreditation involves an independent assessment of the medical laboratory that includes an examination of personnel qualifications and competence, equipment, reagents and supplies. Also, quality assurance is among the factors that are examined. To hatch a plan to achieve all the needed qualifications, NRL a division operating under Rwanda Biomedical Center launched the laboratory accreditation process during an international conference in 2009. Then Rwanda adopted the WHO AFRO Strengthening Laboratory Management towards Accreditation (SLMTA) program, a process that prepares laboratories for higher accreditation through ranking them from 0-5 stars. READ MORE…

Rwanda has launched Anti – Epidemic Robots as one of the most recent strategies put in place to boost the fight against COVID-19 at treatment centres. The robots have the capacity to screen between  50 to 150 people per minute, deliver food and medication The robots have the capacity to screen between  50 to 150 people per minute, deliver food and medication to patient rooms, capture data, rooms, capture data, and notify officers on duty about detected abnormalities for timely response and case management.  The new development is expected to increase timeliness and efficiency in the fight against Coronavirus and reduce exposure of health workers to possible Covid-19 infection.

Launched at Kanyinya COVID-19 treatment centre on 19 May 2020, the high-tech robots are a result of a partnership between The Ministry of Health, Ministry of ICT and Innovation and The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Rwanda. READ MORE…

The World Health Conference was held virtually for the first time this year due to COVID-19 and covered only essential matters of the World Health Organization (WHO), in order to focus on the global COVID-19 pandemic response.

Rwandan delegation led by the Minister of Health Dr Daniel Ngamije attended the 73rd World Health Assembly through Video Conference, on Monday, May 18, 2020. In his remarks, Minister Ngamije shared that the focus of Rwanda is Primary Health Care.

“Rwanda considers the Primary Health Care approach as one of the most important vehicles for achieving universal health coverage. Through this approach, Rwanda reinforces a people-centred, integrated and sustainable health care system in order to ensure quality essential health care services as close to the community as possible” Said Minister Ngamije READ MORE…

Rwanda Coronavirus Update for 18th JuneRwanda on Wednesday, June 17 recorded three (3) new coronavirus cases in as many days. This brought the tally of confirmed cases to 639 countrywide. On the same day, nine patients were discharged from treatment centres after recovery, increasing the overall recovery count to 347. All these new cases were drawn from 2,508 sample tests that were run on Wednesday, as per the daily update by the Ministry of Health.

On June 18th, Rwanda still recorded low cases of Coronavirus patients, they were only 7 bringing the total number of cases to 646.

In total, the country has since the first Covid-19 on March 14 taken 99,309 sample tests of the pandemic and among those 639 were detected as positive cases, of whom 347 have since recovered. READ MORE…

Germany’s renowned Robert Koch Institute, on Thursday, June 18, announced that it is no longer considering Rwanda as a Covid-19 risk area, owing to the country’s recent containment measures against the virus. The announcement came after the country had not featured on the institute’s list of Covid-19 risk areas in the past four days. This makes Rwanda the only country in the region that has not featured on the list.

On the same list, 136 territories are high Covid-19 risk, 29 of which are USA states. Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is Germany’s central scientific institution in the field of biomedicine.  The institute is one of the most important bodies for ensuring public health in the country especially during the coronavirus era. READ MORE…

Rwanda Coronavirus Update 19th JuneRwanda on Friday, June 19 reported 15 new cases of Covid-19, who according to the Ministry of Health, are linked to the Rusizi and Rusumo clusters. “New cases driven by the Rusizi and Rusumo clusters,” the Ministry of Health Rwanda noted in its Covid-19 daily update.

The two areas have been the leading hotspots of Covid-19 in Rwanda for the past couple of weeks, and most of these patients are cross-border traders and truck-drivers.

On the same day, one Covid-19 patient was discharged after full recovery. The latest results were obtained from 3,033 sample tests showing the country’s continued increase in the number of tests conducted in a single day. READ MORE…

Rwanda Coronavirus Updates 20th JuneRwanda on Saturday, June 20 reported 41 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the tally of confirmed cases to 702. The latest total number of new infections has been the highest number of daily cases that Rwanda has recorded since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

According to the Ministry of Health Rwanda, the new infections are linked to the Rusizi and Rusumo clusters. “New cases driven by the Rusizi and Rusumo clusters,” the Ministry noted in its Covid-19 Coronavirus daily update.

The two areas have been the leading hotspots of Covid-19 in Rwanda for the past couple of weeks, and most of these patients are cross-border traders and truck-drivers. READ MORE…

Rwanda Coronavirus Updates 21st JuneRwanda on Sunday, June 21 reported 26 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the tally of active cases to 367 against 359 recoveries. In a daily update on the pandemic by the Ministry of Health Rwanda, it was noted that of the new cases; 18 were detected in Rusizi district, two at Rusumo and 6 cases found in Kigali.

The Ministry also noted that the new cases include those detected from the community. The latest update was obtained from 3,252 sample tests. In total, the country has since mid-March conducted 111,257 sample tests. For the past few weeks, Rusizi and Rusumo have been the leading hotspots of new Covid-19 coronavirus infections. READ MORE…

Rwanda Coronavirus Update 22nd JuneThe government of Rwanda has called upon high vigilance amongst the public, especially in the City of Kigali, after two taxi moto operators in Kigali tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday, June 21.

Speaking to state radio on Monday morning, Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the Director-General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), revealed that the two were sampled from ongoing mass testing that is targeting all taxi moto operators in the city. “They were discovered through the ongoing mass testing of taxi moto operators, which we have been conducting for the past five days,” Nsanzimana said. READ MORE…

Rwanda Coronavirus Update 18th JuneThe 2020 Rwanda International Trade Fair, Expo2020, has been postponed to December 11-31 due to Covid-19 pandemic. It was expected to take place from July 21-August 10. The 23rd Trade Fair has been postponed due to the fact that Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the movement of international exhibitors.

Rwanda Private Sector Federation, the organizers of the exhibition, announced the postponement on Thursday, June 18. READ MORE…

Rwanda Coronavirus Updates 19th JuneCoronavirus deaths are still rising around the world, having already soared over 8.5 million by Thursday. Economies are plunging into recession. And now there are mass global protests against racial inequity and social injustice.

It is tempting to draw an analogy with one of the old science-fiction movies in which the world was about to explode and the valiant hero – who was unfortunately usually male – would have to find a way to transport the survivors safely to another planet to begin all over again.

Fortunately, our world is now transforming rather than ending and current leaders of all types and genders do not have to start completely from scratch in the “New Normal” beyond Corona, which is likely to begin next year. READ MORE…

Rwanda Coronavirus Update 20th JuneThe Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete has said that cross border trade is progressing well, despite the measures in place to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. “Trade is going well. In 24 hours, we receive between 400 and 500 cross border trucks at Rusumo border. Sometimes they are more. At Kagitumba, it is between 45 and 60 while at Cyanika, they are between 9 and 15.”

Rusumo is Rwanda’s gateway to Tanzania on the Central Corridor while Kagitumba and Cyanika link Rwanda to Uganda and serves as the gateway to the port of Mombasa in Kenya, through the Northern Corridor. READ MORE…

Dubai Ruling FamilyOn 14th June 2020, Rwanda received over 300,000 pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and medical equipment from H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid A1 Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, and his wife H.H. Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Junta A1 Maktoum (the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ruling family). DP World and One&Only hotels in Rwanda assisted with the logistics of the delivery of these items from Dubai. “His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and the First Lady. Sheikha Hind, are determined to do their bit to support the people of Rwanda during this difficult time. They are very focused on extending their assistance and friendship to help others battling this awful pandemic,” said H.E. Mohammed Al Shaihani. Executive Director and CEO of the Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) and Chairman of the Board that manages One & Only hotels. READ MORE…

As part of its response to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic crisis around the world, the Government of Rwanda on 13th June donated testing medical kits to the peacekeeping United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) as part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This is part of the earlier promised 200 test kits and personal protective equipment (PPE’s) to the mission in support of international efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

Brig Gen Eugene Nkubito, who represented Rwanda said:” The medical kits will contribute to mass testing and sampling for Coronavirus COVID-19 within peacekeepers in UNMISS. He said, “COVID-19 is a common enemy to mankind, and cooperation is the way to defeat the pandemic”. READ MORE…

Coronavirus Covid-19 casesRwanda on Saturday, June 13 reported 31 new Coronavirus-COVID-19 confirmed cases- the highest since mid-March when the country registered her first case. On the same day, 11 patients were discharged from treatment centres after recovery. The results were from 2,043 sample tests. In a statement, the Ministry of Health noted that “Rusizi cluster and Rusumo continue to drive new cases” hence urging “heightened vigilance everywhere”.

The country has seen a rise in the number of positive cases since the beginning of June and has placed two border districts Rusizi and Rubavu bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo under total lockdown even as the rest of the country slowly eases back to normal life. Rwanda has been receiving its citizens stranded in other countries, and all returnees go through a mandatory 14-day quarantine. READ MORE…

Rwanda’s Coronavirus COVID-19 Cases Increase to 500 Rwanda’s coronavirus cases have increased to 510 after 16 cases were registered in the country on Friday, June 12, according to the latest update from the Ministry of Health. According to the Ministry’s daily Covid-19 update, the new cases are related to the Rusizi cluster and repatriated Rwandans. Rusizi District has been the latest hotspot for coronavirus, which was first traced in cross-border traders a few days ago.

Subsequently, the government, on instruction from the health ministry, imposed a lockdown on sectors that make up Kamembe town, which borders DR Congo. On top of Kamembe, Nkombo island on Lake Kivu was also put on lockdown as part of the effort to curtail Covid-19 cases in the region. According to the ministry, the latest cases have been isolated and contacts traced. The status report indicates that eight patients were discharged after full recovery in the past 24 hours. READ MORE…

Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) on Thursday, June 11 launched a project aimed at equipping community health workers with digital technology and data tools to facilitate response and prevention of COVID-19. This project, which is worth Rwf 223 million, is co-funded by the French Agency for Research on AIDS and viral hepatitis (ANRS) and by the French Embassy.

Two other French research institutes namely Institut Pasteur and INSERM will take part in the project implementation and evaluation. RBC said the project will promote wider and faster detection of cases, help in contact tracing, support social reintegration of recoveries and ensure a link between the population and the health system in Rwanda. READ MORE…

UNMISS Women Network Mourn Rwandan Colleague

Coronavirus- Covid-19The UN-Police Women Network under the peacekeeping body; Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), on Tuesday, held a memorial function in honour of Police Constable (PC) Enid Mbabazi who passed on. Mbabazi, aged 24, was a member of Rwanda Formed Police Unit-One (FPU-1) hybrid of 240 Police officers deployed in Malakal. She succumbed to Coronavirus-COVID-19 on June 2, at the King Faisal Hospital after she was evacuated back home for further treatment.

The virtual memorial function was held across all UNMISS field offices where fellow UN Police peacekeepers eulogized Mbabazi’s amiable character; how she touched hearts of all she met or worked with, and condoled with her country and family. READ MORE…

Rwanda on 14th March 2020, through its Ministry of Health, reported the country’s first case of COVID-19. The patient was an Indian citizen, a male who arrived from Mumbai, India on 08 March 2020. However, the patient had no symptoms upon arrival in Rwanda. He reported himself to a health facility on 13 March, where he was immediately tested and the results were positive. He is currently under treatment in stable conditions, isolated from other patients. This is the second case in East Africa after Kenya recorded the first case on Friday.

President Paul Kagame; the president of the Republic of Rwanda on Saturday 14th March 2020 advised Rwanda to remain calm and focus on simple but effective measures that are key to keeping each other and everyone safe.   “As the world faces the COVID19 pandemic, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families and their loved ones. We wish strength to the health workers on the frontlines and quick recovery to all patients,” President Kagame said. READ MORE…