March 29, 2020

Two Coronavirus Cases Confirmed in Bukavu, Putting Rwanda’s Rusizi at Risk

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On the other side, separated by a small portion of Lake Kivu, is Bukavu town in DR Congo

New control measures against spread of the COVID-19 virus may have to be introduced in Rwanda’s Rusizi district after confirmation of two cases just across the border in DR Congo.

Congo’s biomedical lab (INRB), which is handling the testing and monitoring of the pandemic from Kinshasa announced Sunday evening that Bukavu town has 2 cases. Bukavu is capital of south Kivu, and lays directly across from Rusizi town, southwestern Rwanda.

At the moment, Rwanda has closed its border to all, but essential traffic. Trucks carrying good are among services exempted since Rwanda is the lifeline for Bukavu as source of much of the imports into that whole Congolese region.

Before the border closure, tens of thousands of Rwandans and Congolese would have been crossing this border on a daily basis. Many are traders involved in the booming informal trade of food from Rwanda. The Bukavu-Rusizi border is actually one of busiest globally.

Also, due to years of war in eastern Congo, which erupted again in mid 2018, hundreds of Bukavu’s elite live in Rusizi and commute daily back to Bukavu.

It means that with confirmation of coronavirus cases in Bukavu, officials in Rwanda will be desperately hoping the affected people had not come to Rusizi before they were identified.

In total, as of Sunday evening, DR Congo recorded 16 new cases, bringing total to 81. Two people died today from the virus todag, making total of 8 so far.

In Rwanda, by press time, the number of cases had not yet been updated from the 60 cases of Saturday. No deaths in Rwanda.

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