Rwanda's Kigali city will remain under lockdown for seven more days until February 7, as the government continues to do mass testing to curb rising coronavirus infections.
The decision was made following a virtual cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame on Tuesday.
Restrictions on the movement of people have started slowing infections, with the country's positivity rate, which is currently at 5.4 percent as of Tuesday, down from 7.5 before the lockdown.
“We have started to see a difference in Covid-19 numbers from before the lockdown and its first week. We are positive that after one more week, the impact will have been amplified,” said Dr Daniel Ngamije, Ministry of Health.
Recorded deaths have been decreased by 36 percent since before lockdown and recovery numbers have increased, he added.
In the last two weeks, the ministry conducted extensive Covid-19 testing in all sectors in Kigali.
The results indicated that in every 100 people in any sector in Kigali, at least five are Covid-19 positive in elderly people with an underlying condition.
The country also increased tests from 1,000-3,000 tests per day to 10,000 tests in a day.
Patients were contained and treated mostly in their homes during the lockdown. The minister explained that if patients do not spread the virus and receive treatment, one more week is enough to have an impact.
Dr Ngamije said the ministry is improving treatment methods.
“In the last few days, we have seen more recoveries than new cases, something we have not seen for months. It is a result of the new Covid-19 drug that has been in use for two weeks,” he explained.
In late January, the ministry received 18,000 doses of the new drug, ‘Favipiravir’ which is said to be more efficient.
As of Tuesday, February 3, out of 15,688 total Covid-19 cases recorded, 10,745 have recovered. Some 4,738 are still sick but only 19 are in critical condition. The virus death toll stood at 205.
“As we wait for the vaccine, we need to hold on to the only solution we have –contain the virus,” Dr. Ngamije noted.
Rwanda will receive the first 102,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine and 996,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine in the first batch this month.
The doses will first be administered to the elderly, those with chronic diseases and frontline workers. The country aims at vaccinating at least 60 percent of its population before the end of the year.
From February 8, curfew in Kigali will be 7pm through 4am from the current 8pm to 4am. Public transport and businesses will resume will only 50 percent of their staff in operation.
The rest of the country will continue adhering to Covid-19 measures with intra-districts movements and public gatherings restricted.