April 17, 2020

Signs Emerging Show COVID-19 Lockdown to be Extended


The bus park in Kigali that houses buses doing provincial travel is all deserted

The ongoing 35-day total lockdown of Rwanda may be extended beyond April 19 if signs emerging are to be put into consideration.

Immediately after the first cases of COVID-19 had been reported on March 14, government ordered total lockdown of the whole country for two weeks. It was then extended to April 19, which is this Sunday.

Now the Education Ministry has asked schools that still had food in stock when schools were closed, to distribute it to vulnerable people in areas where they are located. Education ministry says it is coordinating with local government ministry to implement the redistribution of these food stocks.

It is the first such sign that the lockdown is not about to end soon, and therefore schools will not open anytime soon.

As of Thursday evening, a total of 138 cases had been recorded in the country with 60 recovered. However, in the past two weeks, all the new cases are local cases, who were infected by those that came from outside – mainly Dubai.

Head of the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC), Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, who is at forefront of the government’s efforts to control spread, said three days ago that cases have been recorded in all the four provinces, with Kigali being the most affected.

It means, the government will argue that it needs more time to contain all possible avenues of spread in the provinces. The lockdown stops all travel, and if that is opened, it could open routes for more infections.

Another reason the lockdown is likely to continue, is that the private sector federation is still receiving tons of food and sanitary supplies, which are handed to government to give to poor families.

Regionally, except for Tanzania and Burundi which have not ordered lockdowns, Kenya and Uganda have them in place, and will go on for weeks to come until May. In addition, some of the COVID-19 cases identified came from Rwanda’s neighborhood.

There is no way government in Kigali can open up, to allow free movement, yet the region is not doing the same. If the lifting of lockdown is to be done, it may be done at a regional level.

Besides, testing is still extremely low across the east African region, meaning there are more people still spreading the virus out there.

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