Rwanda has upgraded its national laboratory testing capacity to detect new coronavirus variants with 12 cases of the UK and South Africa variants now confirmed in the country.
The patients were international travellers who were immediately quarantined and treated. No local transmission of the new variants has been recorded so far, according to Rwanda’s Ministry of Health.
“Since March 2020 when Coronavirus was recorded in Rwanda, we have rolled out policies to build capacity to track the virus’s sequencing. With our partners, we enabled the national laboratory to conduct profound studies on the virus including identifying new variants and any other changes…
“Since August 2020, we tested 400 Covid-19 positive samples. Last week, we found 12 cases of new variants,” Dr Daniel Ngamije said on national television on Sunday.
By Sunday, Rwanda had vaccinated 334,538 people, about 4.2 per cent of its approximately 12 million population, against coronavirus.
The government says 97 percent of the targeted people have received their first dose. These include healthcare workers, the elderly with underlying conditions, teachers, security guards, journalists, government officials, service providers in the hospitality industry, traders, truck and taxi drivers, motorcyclists and market vendors. The list also includes Rwandan peacekeepers abroad.
The countrywide Covid-19 vaccination has been ongoing since March 5 after Rwanda received more than 400,000 doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines. The doses were acquired under the Covax facility and an additional 50,000 doses were donated by India.
The government says it is negotiating with partners to acquire more doses and is expecting more vaccine doses not later than 28 days to enable it roll out second doses and vaccinate more people with the aim of inoculating 30 per cent of its population by end of the year.
As of March 21, Rwanda had recorded 1,358 active cases and 290 deaths. The positivity rate stands at 2.5 percent.