Rwanda has hitherto tested more than 1200 people of COVID-19, with only 11 turning out to be positive, it has emerged. The first positive case in Rwanda was recorded on Saturday, March 14. Some 900 people had been tested for the virus before the first positive case was registered. Tests for coronavirus in the country are conducted at the Kigali-based National Reference Laboratory, which mostly receives samples from different entry points across the country as well as hospitals. According to officials, the focus is put on people believed to be at high risk of being infected. Speaking to the national broadcaster, RBA, on Friday, Dr Jean Baptiste Mazarati, the Head of Biomedical Services at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre, said: “People thought to be at high risk at the airport or border points are taken to a nearby hospital where they are put in specialized chambers. “From there, tests are taken and then brought to the National Reference Laboratory for analysis, a process which takes 4-5 hours.” Mazarati also revealed that since the first confirmed case in Rwanda, the laboratory analyses 20-30 tests a day. “Over 150 people have since been tested since the first case was confirmed (a week ago),” said Mazarati, adding that the facility has, in all, analysed over 1200 samples. How samples are collected The tests can be done on respiratory samples using real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) whose results can be available within hours to two days. “We take samples from the nose (nostrils) and the throat, and from there we can proceed with the tests,” explained Esperance Umumararungu, Director of Nucleic Acid Testing Laboratory Unit at RBC. By Friday, Rwanda still had 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus. The national laboratory can operate 24 hours a day. Preventive measures The best way to curb the virus spread, according to WHO, is to avoid shaking hands, avoid close contact (at least less than a metre), wash hands regularly with soap and clean water ( for at least 40 seconds), and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer regularly where hand washing is not applicable. It’s also advised to cover the nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or with the bend of your elbow when coughing or sneezing.