Rwanda confirms first coronavirus case

Saturday March 14 2020

Rwanda

Nurses wearing protective clothing handle a vial containing a potentially infected coronavirus swab at a drive-through testing centre at the University of Washington Medical campus on March 13, 2020. Rwanda on March 14, 2020 reported first coronavirus case. PHOTO | JOHN MOORE | AFP | GETTY 

IVAN R. MUGISHA
By IVAN R. MUGISHA
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KIPLAGAT EDWIN
By KIPLAGAT EDWIN
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Rwanda announced on Saturday its first case of the new coronavirus, Covid-19.

In a statement, the health ministry said the patient is an Indian citizen who arrived in the country from Mumbai on March 8.

“An Indian citizen who arrived from Mumbai, India on March 8, 2020 has tested positive for Coronavirus (Covid-19). The patient had no symptoms upon arrival in Rwanda and reported himself to a health facility on March 13 where he was immediately tested,” the ministry said.

The ministry said that the patient is stable adding that primary contacts have been traced.

The detection makes Rwanda the second country in the East African Community, after Kenya, to confirm the presence of the virus.

The ministry urged all residents of Rwanda to continue observing all instructions from health authorities, wash hands regularly, avoid large gatherings, and report any symptoms by calling toll-free number 114.

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National carrier Rwandair on Thursday announced a suspension of its flights to and from Mumbai, India.

Other flights that had been previously suspended include Guangzhou and Tel Aviv in Israel.

Kigali authorities last week also announced suspension of events that might attract large crowds as a measure to fight against the global pandemic that has so far claimed over 5000 people and infected over 140,000.

“The City of Kigali hereby announces to the public that entertainment gatherings, trade and exhibition shows and pilgrimages are suspended beginning March 8 until another announcement is made to reinstate these activities,” a city of Kigali statement reads.

“In order to protect people’s lives, we remind those in charge of activities that gather many people such as churches, hotels, nightclubs, bars and restaurants to put in place strong hygiene measures and sanitizers in order to protect people against the Coronavirus.”

Rwanda Development Board on Monday said that tourism operations will continue and announced that tourists have up to two years to postpone their bookings at no extra cost if they are affected by flight cancellations, travel bans or if they are infected with Covid-19.

The government also waived a 30-day requirement prior to visit date, for tour operators to have submitted the final payment for reserved tourist permits.

Screening

The Ministry of Health has rolled out screening of Covid-19 at all border posts and at the airport, noting that individuals found to have symptoms of the virus infection will be treated in quarantined pending more investigation and laboratory tests.

Instructions were also issued to all public offices, businesses and commercial buildings to ensure that hand soap and sanitizers are available at all times.

Last week, President Paul Kagame chaired an extraordinary cabinet meeting which he reaffirmed the government’s “strengthened approach to contain the potential spread of the Coronavirus outbreak” in the country.

He put the ministries of health and local government, the Prime Minister and security agencies in charge of spearheading efforts against the Corona Virus.

“The Cabinet meeting urged all Rwandans to take appropriate precautions and follow the advice of health professionals and avoid unnecessarily internal or international travels and large gatherings,” a statement reads.

Rwanda's western neighbour the Democratic Republic of Congo also reported its first case on Tuesday.