Rwanda has launched its largest treatment centre for Covid-19 patients, which is expected to provide relief for overwhelmed hospitals across the country.
The new centre has the capacity to admit 140 patients under its intensive care unit and comes at a time when the country is desperately trying to control a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that had by January 8 claimed 115 lives, with 2,313 active cases.
The treatment centre is housed within the newly launched Nyarugenge District Hospital in Kigali City, built to the tune of about $10 million.
“The facility is expected to improve Covid-19 case management. It offers the highest standard of oxygen therapy and its ICU capacity allows to admit 136 patients,” Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) said on Twitter.
Prior to its launch, Rwanda had a total of 114 intensive care unit beds, 90 fixed ventilators and 130 portable ventilators prioritised for Covid-19 patients, according to the Rwanda Biomedical Centre.
More than 50 patients needing oxygen and intensive care are slated for transfer to the centre from other treatment centres in Kigali.
Experts anticipate a third wave of the virus infection before the vaccine is accessible to much of the population.
“Covid-19 has some factors in common with the previous respiratory pandemics such the 1918 Spanish Flu. It takes three waves for us to be able to manage it. Since the vaccine will not take effect immediately everywhere at the same time, we might have another wave of infections this year,” Dr Menelas Nkeshimana told The EastAfrican.
Dr Nkeshimana, a member of Rwanda Joint Task Force for Covid-19 with experience in handling pandemics, added that the country faces the risk of rising infections because of its young and mobile population which facilitates contagion.
In mid-December, Rwanda authorised up to 42 private clinics to begin Covid-19 tests using the rapid antigen tests. This was done to ease access to testing services and relieve pressure on public testing facilities.
As of Friday, Rwanda had recorded 9,368 total coronavirus infections and 6,940 recoveries, out of 760,897 tests done since the virus was reported in the country in March.
As the pandemic rages, Rwanda last week temporarily restricted movement of people between its capital city Kigali and other districts in its latest bid to curb surging coronavirus infections and deaths.
A strict 8pm to 4am curfew was maintained while police and security agencies traverse the country to ensure that people adhere to social distancing and mask-wearing.
The government announced plans to purchase vaccine doses from British-Swedish pharmaceutical AstraZeneca and American biotechnology firm Moderna.
Rwanda expects to vaccinate 20 percent of its population in March 2021.