Belgium scraps Covid-19 test for arriving travelers from Rwanda

Passengers board a RwandAir plane at Kigali International Airport last year. The national carrier is expected to resume flights to Brussels, Belgium on October 3. Photo: Sam Ngendahimana

People returning to Belgium from Rwanda will no longer be obliged to undergo testing for the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) on arrival to the European country.

They are also not required to remain in quarantine, according to the latest updates to the interactive map on the country’s Foreign Ministry’s website.

 

Rwanda and South Korea are the only countries that travelers returning to Belgium won’t require mandatory testing and quarantine.

 

Until now, Belgium had banned non-essential travel outside the European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway.

 

While Brussels strongly advises against visiting countries and regions coded red for Covid-19, it is no longer banning travel to such areas. It is also complying with European agreements on safe countries outside Europe.

However, of the 10 countries on the EU safe list, only Rwanda and South Korea are listed as orange by Belgian authorities.

The others are coded red, so the Belgian foreign ministry strongly advises against travel to those countries or bans it in cases where the country concerned does not accept visitors from Belgium.

Meanwhile, Rwanda was a few weeks back put on the list of the European Union Council’s epidemiologically safe countries.

Other countries include Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay.

These are basically countries for which EU member states should gradually lift travel restrictions at the external border.

When the outbreak emerged, Rwanda instituted strict measures, including total a lockdown which lasted for close to two months.

The country has also deployed massive testing across the country, with daily Covid-19 tests, mainly targeting high-risk areas across the country.

The testing is also greatly supported by the deployment of testing labs in different parts of the country, from just one, when the pandemic broke out in March this year.

In recent days, testing has reduced, and this, according to Rwanda Biomedical Centre, is attributed to the fact that there are fewer contacts being traced to Covid-19 cases.

As of Saturday, September 26, the country had conducted 486,735 tests of which 4,779 cases have been diagnosed, and from these, 2,995 have already recovered.

The national death toll stands at 27.

As business slowly gets back to normal, Rwanda is easing some measures including the planned reopening of schools.

Air travel has been allowed to resume for nearly two months now, with RwandAir gradually expanding its travel network as demand picks, having started at the beginning of August, following the reopening of Kigali International Airport.

Having initially started with the Dubai route and other destinations on the African continent, the national flag carrier is expected to resume Brussels flights in Belgium on October 3.

On the same day, flights to London’s Gatwick International Airport will resume.

jbizimungu@newtimesrwanda.com

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