Burundi has announced 40 new Covid-19 cases, the highest number of cases recorded in the country within two days since the first positive case was announced in March last year.
The Ministry of Health said that on January 4, some 10 people tested positive for the virus when they went to get tested in preparation for travel. The government then began tracing their contacts and as a result some 284 people were tested.
“[Among] the 284 people who were tested, 30 of them tested positive for the virus which means that 40 people tested positive in the last two days,” said Burundi’s Health Minister Thadde Ndikumana.
According to the Burundian government, the total Covid-19 cases as of January 5, stood at 884 with 109 active cases, 2 fatalities and 773 recoveries recorded.
Last week, Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye vowed to severely punish officials and individuals who breach Covid-19 measures.
“We have heard some top officials using their offices to sneak in their relatives without going through a mandatory test. Whoever will be caught will be considered a criminal and will face the law,” he said.
Last year, Burundi was among countries that were heavily criticised for lack of action in combating the pandemic. The recently elected president then launched a mass testing campaign that saw 87,404 people tested.
The government under President Ndayishimiye took a different path from his predecessor, the late former president Pierre Nkurunziza, in dealing with the pandemic by imposing measures to combat Covid-19.
As a result of the pandemic, Burundi’s economic growth projection for 2020 was revised down by 5.3 percentage points to -3.2 percent in 2020. The pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing economic challenges and created significant external financing needs in 2020 and 2021, mainly as a result of lower exports, elevated imports needs, and reduced remittances inflows.
Despite Burundi’s tax man (OBR) recording an increase in revenue during the pandemic, Burundi has struggled economically for the last five years after donors suspended direct aid to the government which contributed to almost 45 percent of the country’s annual budget.
However, there has been a U-turn since the new administration took over office late last year, with the European Union financing the country’s health sector to combat the pandemic.