Rwanda in lockdown to contain coronavirus

Rwanda Saturday announced a two-week lockdown in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus, banning unnecessary movement of residents within the Central African country and closing its land borders.

Unnecessary movement and visits outside homes are not permitted except for essential services such as healthcare, food shopping, or banking and for the personnel performing such services, according to a statement issued by Rwandan Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente.

“All employees both public and private shall work from home except for those providing essential services,” the statement said. “Borders are closed except for goods and cargo as well as returning Rwandan citizens and legal residents, who will be subject to mandatory 14 days quarantine at designated locations.”

The measures were taken barely a day after the government banned departing and arriving commercial passenger flights. Rwanda’s Health Ministry Friday reported six new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total confirmed cases to 17 since last Saturday when the first case was announced.

No new cases were reported on Saturday. Initially, government had announced a temporary shutdown of schools, universities, and places of worship across the country for two weeks.

Under the new measures, travel between different cities and districts of the country is banned except for medical reasons or essential services. Noting that transportation of food and essential services will continue to function, Ngirente called on residents to use electronic payments and online banking services whenever possible rather than visiting banks or ATMs.

Besides bars, the government also banned the operation of shops and markets except those selling food, medicine, fuel, cleaning products and other essential services. For eateries, the government indicated that restaurants may only sell takeaway.

The stricter measures were taken in observation of the global trend of COVID-19 virus and consideration of the experiences of other countries, according to the statement.

A total of 795 COVID-19 cases had been reported in 36 African countries as of Friday, according to the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).