We are winning the battle against COVID-19 – expert

Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the Director General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre, speaks to the first batch of COVID-19 patients who were discharged at Kanyinya Health Centre in Nyarugenge District on April 5, 2020. Photo: / File.

Health minister Dr Daniel Ngamije recently tweeted a graph showing the trend of local COVID-19 infections. This came at a time when almost all the new positive cases have been linked to cross-border truck drivers and their assistants.

Interesting graph showing incidence of Covi19since 14th without including Truck drivers data #Keep testing and tracing #All at risk groups. pic.twitter.com/QZ8jrzldFr

 

Rwanda intensified the fight against the global pandemic slightly over two months ago and the curve has been flattening for weeks now. A lockdown that put all non-essential operations on a standstill lasted for 48 days before it was partially lifted on May 4, and until then no community infection had been registered in the country.

 

Since then, the number of infections has been falling while recoveries increased. A total of 19 patients recovered from COVID-19 on May 17 alone. So far, 297 cases have been recorded, 203 patients have recovered and no death has been recorded. A total of 51, 118 tests have been conducted.

 

So, if the COVID-19 curve is flattening, does it mean we are close to winning or even won the battle?

To answer this question, The New Times spoke to Dr Menelas Nkeshimana, from Rwanda Biomedical Centre. 

Excerpts:

The curve is flattening, does it mean Rwanda is beating COVID-19?

Yes, it means that we are beating the virus. Rwandans should be happy that we managed to fight COVID-19 for the last months, recorded no death and now recording lower cases of infections.

Dr Menelas Nkeshimana.

However, we still have issues in neighbouring countries. Rwanda has fought COVID-19 with unwavering consistency but some of our neighbours still have high numbers of infections. 

How close is Rwanda to reporting zero COVID-19 infections?

Given the situation since March 14 when the first COVID-19 case was recorded in the country, I would say if the current efforts are maintained, in two months, we would have no infection.

But if the precautionary measures in place were to stop today, it might take longer than that. It is understandable that a country will not live under lockdown forever. Therefore, it all comes down to how Rwandans are committed to protecting themselves and others on an individual level.

Is there danger of a spike in cases?

Rwanda does not have local infections that would make the curve rise again. However, if preventive measures on borders were to be eased, there is a risk that imported infections could spread and push the curve up again.

If neighbouring countries do not equally take tough measures, we will always have risks of importing new infections. The battle against COVID-19 will always narrow down to collaboration.

ailiza@newtimesrwanda.com

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