UPDATED: Rwanda, DR Congo border traffic returns to normal

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has said that Rwanda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo was not closed, but rather “a slow-down in traffic” was experienced as measures were put in place to reinforce screening procedures.

Earlier yesterday, people in Rubavu (Western Province) reported several hours of deterrence from crossing to and from the DR Congo as a third Ebola case had just been reported in the border city of Goma.

However, in a press conference held at the ministry of health headquarters in Kigali yesterday officials refuted the claims.

Dr Diane Gashumba, the Minister for Health, admitted that there were delays at the border in the morning, but these had nothing to do with closure, but rather a “result of sensitisation sessions” that were held before people could be allowed to cross.

“There is no border that was closed. What happened is that we sensitised people. Yes, we normally find them in the villages where they live, but we can also find them at the border and talk to them,” she stated.

Health minister Dr Diane Gashumba speaks during the news briefing in Kigali yesterday. / Sam Ngendahimana

An official statement from the MoH echoed the same.

“The ministry of health confirms that Rwanda’s border with the democratic republic of Congo is open, following a traffic slow-down this morning as measures were put in place to reinforce screening procedures and public safety at entry points.”

Gashumba, however, said that if possible, Rwandans should not go to the DR Congo.

“Let Rwandans listen to their conscience, but we strongly ask them to consider our advice. If people tell you that there is an epidemic over there, why should you visit that place? You should ask yourself if what you are going for is more important than the life you are putting at threat. And you are not risking your life alone, but the country at large” she said.

Over 1800 people have died out of about 2,700 that have been infected during the current epidemic.

No borders should be closed

Despite declaring the current Ebola epidemic as an Emergency of International Concern, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Ebola in DR Congo made several other recommendations for DR Congo, among which other countries should not close their borders or place any restrictions on travel and trade, as a result of the current Ebola outbreak.

To date, Rwanda remains Ebola free.

The Ministry has advised against unnecessary travels to Goma-Eastern Congo, following increasing number of cases confirmed in DR Congo, and requested that individuals who have recently travelled to an Ebola affected area to report to the nearest screening station and to report any suspected Ebola cases via the Ministry of health toll-free lines 114, police number 112 or to community health workers or the nearest health centre.

Key prevention measures include: frequent washing of hands with clean water and soap, avoiding contact with blood and body fluids, as well as items that would have come in contact with an infected person’s blood and body fluids.

Ebola is transmitted through blood and body fluids, including vomit, urine, saliva, sweat. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, joint pain, headache, diarrhea, skin rash, vomiting, red eyes, stomach-ache and bleeding through different body parts.

Rwanda has a detailed National Preparedness Plan in place and has trained health workers in early detection and response, educated communities about Ebola, vaccinated health workers in high-risk areas, equipped health facilities, and continues to conduct simulation exercises to maintain a high level of readiness.

Screening for Ebola symptoms at points of entry has been ongoing since the beginning of the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and has been reinforced since the confirmation of a case in Goma.

An Ebola Treatment Centre was put in place and 23 isolation units are being prepared in hospitals in 15 priority districts.

About 3000 health workers in high-risk areas have been vaccinated as a preventative measure, including more than 1100 in Rubavu district.

To date, Rwanda has trained over 23,957 people including Doctors, Nurses, hospital staff, Community Health Workers, religious leaders, Red Cross Volunteers and security organs. Meanwhile special ambulances are in place to handle any Ebola suspected case on time.

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FULL GOVERNMENT STATEMENT

Kigali, August 1, 2019 – The Ministry of Health confirms that Rwanda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo is open, following traffic slow-down this morning as measures were put in place to reinforce screening procedures and public safety at entry points.

To date, Rwanda remains Ebola free. The Ministry has advised against unnecessary travels to Goma-Eastern Congo, following increasing number of cases confirmed in DRC, and requested that individuals who have recently travelled to an Ebola affected area to report to the nearest screening station and to report any suspected Ebola cases via the Ministry of health toll-free lines 114, police number 112 or to community health workers or the nearest health centre.

Among key prevention measures are frequent washing of hands with clean water and soap, avoiding contact with blood and body fluids, as well as items that would have come in contact with an infected person’s blood and body fluids.

Ebola is transmitted through blood and body fluids, including vomit, urine, saliva, sweat. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, joint pain, headache, diarrhea, skin rash, vomiting, red eyes, stomach-ache and bleeding through different body parts.

Rwanda has a detailed National Preparedness Plan in place and has trained health workers in early detection and response, educated communities about Ebola, vaccinated health workers in high-risk areas, equipped health facilities, and continues to conduct simulation exercises to maintain a high level of readiness.

Screening for Ebola symptoms at points of entry has been ongoing since the beginning of the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and has been reinforced since the confirmation of a case in Goma.

An Ebola Treatment Centre was put in place and 23 isolation units are being prepared in hospitals in 15 priority districts. Ebola response simulation exercises are on a regular basis within the community, borders, airport and treatment Centre to test Rwanda’s preparedness in response to a case, which includes emergency Operations Centre activation, active surveillance, case management and laboratory testing. About 3000 health workers in high-risk areas have been vaccinated as a preventative measure, including more than 1100 in Rubavu district.

To date, Rwanda has trained over 23,957 people including Doctors, Nurses, hospital staff, Community Health Workers, religious leaders, Red Cross Volunteers and security organs. Meanwhile special ambulances are in place to handle any Ebola suspected case on time.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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