The last few days have seen Rwanda register record confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, driven in large part by outbreaks in two major Kigali city markets. Pockets of infections in Rusizi and Nyamasheke districts also continue to contribute toward the growing numbers of infections in the country.
Rwanda recorded its first Covid-19 case on March 14 and, understandably, life has not been the same since that day. The Government responded resolutely, announcing a total lockdown that would last for six weeks, and putting in place other fundamentals for a strong response.
The tough social-distancing measures proved effective, with the country keeping Covid-19 infections and curve in check, thereby avoiding disaster early on. This was supplemented by active testing, rapid intervention in case of a confirmed case, which allowed for timely isolation and treatment, as well as contact tracing and provision of Personal Protective Equipment.
Most importantly, the public was largely cooperative in observing health guidelines and protecting themselves, their loved ones and others. At least for four months or so.
However, recent trends of Covid-19 infections in the country suggest that this may no longer be the case – well, to some extent. As ‘pandemic fatigue’ sets in and Covid-19 related stressors soar, it seems that many have let their guard down. Admittedly, the longer this situation persists the more people become anxious and uncertain about the future. The situation has been exacerbated by conspiracy theories and unscientific explanations surrounding the pandemic and how to deal with it.
Unfortunately, this is the wrong way to deal with pandemics, according to scientists. Like similar outbreaks before it, Covid-19 thrives on desperation, resignation to fate, or complacency. Should we find ourselves in this sort of situation, it would almost certainly undo all the gains we had made as a country thanks to the sacrifices we paid in the early days of the pandemic.
This must not be allowed to happen. Our attitudes, actions and lifestyle – whether in the workplace, in a restaurant, at a grocery store, or in our neighbourhoods – must always be in tandem with the national policy, WHO guidelines, and science with regard to preventing and fighting Covid-19.
These guidelines and strategies have hitherto spared us the worst, and we must continue to believe in them and behave in a manner that makes them continue to work for us.
We must all work hard to bridge the emerging gap between policy and practice, for any contradictions between the two could be suicidal.
We are on the right course; don’t let no one tell you otherwise.