When the lockdown was first announced, it was obvious that some sections of the population would suffer more than most. The majority of casual labourers are what the Chinese call in their country “migrant workers” and they come from the outskirts of Kigali and even beyond.
With public transport halted, most from nearby districts simply walked home but others did not have that luxury.
They are the backbone of the economy and most survive on day-to-day wages; if they don’t work they don’t eat. So when the coronavirus directive ordering social-distancing, avoiding large gatherings and nonessential movements outside the home, people were worried about the likes of taxi moto operators and others like them who live from hand to mouth on a daily basis.
The reasons for the lockdown and other restrictions are understandable because authorities do not want the virus to spread. What many don’t seem to realise is that this country has robust social protection policies and that dealing with COVID-19’s additional pressure was just a matter of readjustment.
On top of the usual vulnerable people who receive both food and direct support in villages through the Ubudehe programme, those affected by the lockdown have been added on the list and are receiving aid.
People have been generous as they usually do in times of calamities; fuel dealers have donated hundreds of thousands of litres for the emergency workers and businesses and individuals gave out food and other essential products to counter the pandemic.
Today, four more quarantined people were found with the virus bringing the number to 60.
The good news is that most are asymptomatic, meaning that they showed no signs of the virus and had they not been quarantined or tracked as quickly as possible and tested, things could have been worse. Testing, testing and more testing, that is what authorities have promised to scale up and it seems to be working.