Wednesday’s cabinet meeting was held amid fears that the country was potentially headed back into lockdown following sharp rises in daily confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths.
In the end, the Government did not find another full lockdown appropriate – at least for now – but imposed a new set of limitations in addition to the health guidelines already in place that are designed to curb the spread of the virus.
The new measures include suspension of public passenger transport between the capital Kigali – which by far remains the country’s main hotspot – and the provinces, bringing forward the start time of curfew from 9p.m to 7p.m, and ordering shifts in the workplace.
This is in addition to the requirement for everyone to wear a mask in public, strictly observing the one-metre social distancing rule, and regularly sanitising or property washing their hands with soap.
Admittedly, these are not decisions that the Government takes easily, for they not only affect people’s livelihoods but they also hurt the economy. Nonetheless, we are in extraordinary times that require extraordinary measures. The new guidelines were necessary if we are to slow down the pace at which the pandemic is spreading in the community and, therefore, avoid a situation where our health system gets overwhelmed.
The recent trend of infections has been worrying. More people contracted coronavirus over the last two months than during the first three months of the outbreak, while the country has also registered more Covid-19 deaths over the last couple of weeks on average compared to the first few months.
Yet, the success of these measures will come down to individuals. Each one’s attitudes and discipline will determine whether we turn things around and get a handle on the infection rate, or the situation gets out of hand. Of course, the latter is not an option for the consequences would be dire.
It was evident in recent days that some people were starting to throw caution to the wind, organising and attending parties with no Covid-19 safety precautions and engaging in other risky activities, potentially contracting and/or spreading the virus to their friends, family and other contacts.
This must stop if we are to reverse the trend. We need to collectively pull in the same direction for the good of us all. Indeed, we are all in this together, regardless of age or gender, and any behaviour to the contrary must not only be unacceptable but condemned by all.
As a country and people, we simply cannot afford to allow the situation to get out of hand. And the answer lies in respecting the guidelines. Together we can turn the tide on Covid-19.