Countrywide survey informed lifting the COVID-19 lockdown, says health minister

Minister for Health Dr Daniel Ngamije during a past news conference. / Photo: File.

The Minister for Health, Dr Daniel Ngamije, has said that the recent partial lifting of the lockdown was guided by a survey conducted in 30 per cent of hospitals across the country.

The survey involved 4,573 randomly collected samples that were collected on patients, medical personnel and essential workers who were allowed to continue working during the lockdown, all of which tested COVI-19 negative.

 

The results of the survey proved that coronavirus did not spread further in communities thus giving the government confidence to lift the lockdown, at least partially.

 

The minister revealed this during an interview with a national broadcaster on Friday, May 1, as he shed light on the different directives that were put in place to allow for restoration of some normalcy after over a month and half of total lockdown.

 

Ngamije appeared on the interview together with the Minister for Local Government, Anastase Shyaka, and the Minister for Trade and Industry, Soraya Hakuziyaremye.

“Despite the rise in daily recorded cases, the lockdown has helped to contain the virus from going further, especially in communities. Today we know where infections are and we follow them closely,” he said.

In the past one week, Rwanda has been recording over an average of 15 cases per day since April 25, when 20 COVID-19 cases were recorded.

The rise was attributed to cross-border truck drivers and their assistants.

Contact tracing and testing capability

Ngamije explained that the ministry knows the source of the virus and has the ability to trace 95 percent of the contacts.

“We are equipped with required skills and resources to mass-test and trace contacts. We are in touch with different institutions to make sure that contacts and patients are known and attended to,” he said.

He revealed that cross-border truck drivers who drive to Rwanda from neighboring countries do not enter the country but exchange trucks on the border with Coronavirus-free drivers who drive commodities to designated places inside the country.

“It would be an issue if infected people were scattered all over the country. But today we know where hotspots to be closely observed are,” he explained.

Asked why Kigali has the tightest restrictions than provinces, the Minister answered that according to experience so far, Kigali was the source of most of the recorded cases. There were no identified crowds of infected people out of Kigali.

This is not victory

However, the Health Minister explained, partially lifting the lockdown does not mean the battle against the highly contagious virus is over.

“We still have over 90 patients in treatment centers and we still record new cases. Measures to discourage the virus from spreading should continue to be realised,” he emphasized.

He called upon the public to be cooperative, report COVID-19 related information, social distance, wear face masks and wash hands frequently.

Rwanda has been battling coronavirus since March 14. It has so far recorded 243 cases and 104 recoveries. The countrywide lockdown that was imposed on March 21 was partially lifted by the Government on Thursday, April 30. The new guidelines will be followed effective Monday, May 4.

ailiza@newtimesrwanda.com

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