Over 1,200 people were tested for Covid-19 in three communes in Bujumbura, with the Health ministry saying 41 people tested positive as of last week after the government launched a mass testing campaign in the country.
“Every Burundian who presents with mild symptoms or fever should get tested for the virus and those who appear to have flu or cold symptoms should buy masks so that they can protect themselves and their families,” said Health Minister Thaddee Ndikumana.
Mr Ndikumana, who launched the mass testing campaign in Bujumbura on July 6, said three centres had been set up at Kamenge in Ntahangwa Commune, Hotel Source du Nil and Kanyosha parish for residents in Muha commune. Testing is free of charge and will be extended to different provinces countrywide for a period of three months with results released within 24 hours.
The mass testing campaign follows President Evariste Ndayishimiye’s declaration that the government will be stepping up the fight against the pandemic. Burundi is among countries that did not impose any measures to contain the virus even during the political campaigns for the presidential elections.
However, the new government has changed tack with more effort put to control the spread of the virus. According to the country’s health ministry, the number of citizens who turned up for testing on the first day surpassed the estimated 250 people and exceeded 400.
“On the first day of the mass tests 640 people were tested for Covid-19 and 28 of them tested positive for the virus,” said a statement from the health ministry.
Currently, the number of Covid-19 cases in Burundi stands at 232 people with one death. The government says 131 people who had earlier tested positive for the virus recovered and were discharged from hospital.
The previous government was criticised by activists for making little effort to control the spread of the virus. In May, the government of the late Pierre Nkurunziza expelled WHO officials from the country.
According to government data, since March, more than 3,000 people have been tested with over 200 people testing positive for the virus.
The country received healthcare kits worth $530,000 from the United Nations Development Programme on July 4, which included three ventilators, 14 million masks, six vehicles and other equipment.