An extraordinary Cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame on Friday, March 6, 2020, reaffirmed a strengthened approach to contain the potential spread of the coronavirus—or COVID19—outbreak in Rwanda. This effort is led by the Office of the Prime Minister along with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Local Government and Security organs. The Cabinet meeting also urged all Rwandans to take appropriate precautions and follow the advice of health professionals and avoid unnecessary internal or international travels and large gatherings, reads part of the Cabinet meeting minutes. This comes as the outbreak continues to spread, infecting more than 100,000 people, globally, with at least 3,070 deaths in China and at least 267 fatalities in other parts of the globe, most of them in Italy and Iran. Earlier, in a statement, the Prime Ministers Office called on the public to; avoid shaking hands and close body contact such as hugging; avoid unnecessary travels to countries affected by Coronavirus, and cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing in public. The deadly virus disease spreads from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID19 coughs or exhales. No case of the deadly virus disease has been recorded in Rwanda so far. But the government is leaving no stone unturned as it ups the tempo on preventive measures considering the fact that the outbreak is now in more than six African countries. Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Morocco, Cameroon, South Africa, Senegal, Tunisia, and Togo have confirmed Covid-19 cases recently. The director-general of the World Health Organization has warned governments that the continued international spread of the novel coronavirus is not a drill and will require significant action if public health authorities are to contain the deadly outbreak. This is not a drill. This is not the time to give up. This is not a time for excuses. This is a time for pulling out all the stops. Countries have been planning for scenarios like this for decades. Now is the time to act on those plans, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday. This epidemic can be pushed back, but only with a collective, coordinated and comprehensive approach that engages the entire machinery of government. The current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was first reported from Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019. How does it spread? According to the WHO, people can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important, the UN health agency advises, to stay more than one meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick. Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air, says the WHO. It is stressed that the main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. What are the COVID-19 symptoms? The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. According to the WHO, these symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and dont feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. It is also noted that around 1 out of every 6 people who get COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention. How can you reduce the chances of being infected? According to the WHO, you can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions: Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub, it is noted, kills viruses that may be on your hands. Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick. Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. Why? Droplets spread the virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19. Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority. Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent the spread of viruses and other infections. Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow the advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves. Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid traveling to places – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease. Why? You have a higher chance of catching COVID-19.