The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) has issued new guidelines for public transport operators aimed at increasing vigilance in preventing the coronavirus from reaching the population of Rwanda.
Among the new guidelines, the regulatory body requires all public transport vans to provide handwashing or sanitizing equipment to passengers that are boarding their buses.
One of the measures that the Government has implemented to prevent the spread of the virus is the provision of handwashing equipment in a number of public places, including bus parks, however, there have been questions arising concerning the safety of people that board buses from the different bus stops in the city.
However, on Friday, RURA issued guidelines ordering bus operators to put in place measures that allow passengers they pick from on-road bus stops to wash their hands before they can board.
The communiqué addressed to different bus companies and signed by Patrick Nyirishema the Director-General of RURA, the regulator also ordered bus companies to “clean their vans by applying disinfectants on the handles on which passengers hold while standing in buses.”
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses.
Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).
“If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose,” reads a statement from the WHO.
In other guidelines, RURA also ordered public transport companies to provide hand washing equipment at their premises so that passengers can also wash from there before boarding.
According to RURA, the regulations are meant to be implemented with immediate effect.
“Not respecting these regulations is against the government programmes of preventing the coronavirus epidemic and it is punishable,” the communiqué read.
Africa had so far largely been spared the rapid spread of COVID-19, which has infected at least 132,000 and killed nearly 5,000 worldwide.