Rise in Covid-19 cases derails Rwanda’s plan to lift lockdown

Monday June 1 2020

Coronavirus in Kigali, Rwanda.

A staff of the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) screens passengers at a bus station in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 22, 2020. PHOTO | SIMON WOHLFAHRT | AFP 

IVAN R. MUGISHA
By IVAN R. MUGISHA
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Rwanda on Sunday reported 11 new coronavirus cases, the highest number in two weeks, leading the country to cancel some plans to reopen the economy.

Following the development, transportation between provinces, which was expected to resume on June 1, has now been put on hold.

Commercial motorcyclists were also expected to begin work on Monday and directives had been put in place asking them to adopt stringent digital payments to reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus through cash exchanges.

“After reassessment, transportation between provinces and the City of Kigali, as well as passenger moto services, will remain closed until further notice in the interest of public health. Further Covid-19 measures will be announced by the cabinet on Tuesday 2 June,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The Minister of Health, Dr Daniel Ngamije, said on public radio that “reopening the economy, public transport and commercial motorcyclists at this particular moment would render all our success useless and enable coronavirus to spread across the country.”

Six infections were reported in border districts. “The new cases comprise returning residents and cross border truck drivers and traders. Patients are in isolation, contacts have been traced,” the Ministry of Health said.

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Schools remain closed until September 2020, while businesses were directed to continue operating with essential staff only while other employees continue working from home.

Rwanda’s borders are still closed, except for goods and cargo, as well as returning citizens and legal residents.

Two weeks ago, Rwanda relaxed the coronavirus lockdown and allowed civil marriage ceremonies to take place for the first time in two months as the country moved slowly towards a full reopening.

Curfew was also extended by one hour, with residents and traders allowed to move freely from 5am to 9pm.

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