Rwandans in Wuhan Safe, No Plan for Evacuations - Govt

Health workers test government officials and executives from the private sector for coronavirus ahead of their departure for the National retreat in Gabiro.
1 February 2020

The government of Rwanda has said that Rwandans in the Chinese city of Wuhan are safe and there is no immediate plan to evacuate them.

Wuhan is the city at the heart of the coronavirus outbreak that has spread to all the 31 Chinese provinces and about 23 other countries, globally, a factor that prompted the World Health Organisation to declare the epidemic a Public Health Emergence of International Concern.

In China, at least 213 people have died and more than 9,809 cases recorded across the country, according to the Chinese government on Friday.

Many countries have taken measures to make sure that they keep the outbreak out of their boundaries. Many, including Rwanda have had their airlines suspend direct flights with the Asian country, while others plan to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan.

In a news conference on Friday, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation (MINAFFET), said it is in contact with Rwandans in Wuhan and they are well, and no evacuation is planned so far.

According to MINAFFET, there are about 155 Rwandans in the central Chinese city, and having assessed the mechanism put in place by the People's Republic of China, there is currently no need to evacuate Rwandans from there.

"All the 155 Rwandans that we are in touch with have been able to tell us their wellbeing. Any challenges that were reported were minor, and those (challenges) are the ones that we have been handling through the Embassy of Rwanda in Beijing," said Urujeni Bakuramutsa, the Permanent Secretary at MINAFFET.

"So far, we have assessed that the evacuation plan is not needed but as the situation is dynamic, we are continuing to monitor and will be able to update you on whether this needs to be revised," she added.

Dr Diane Gashumba, the Minister for Health, said Rwanda trusts the Chinese government's medical care.

"We are confident about what they are doing to contain this outbreak, and also our people living in China, especially the students are mature people, they are disciplined and have been observing the guidance and advice given to them for safety," she said.

"So, we are not at the level of thinking of evacuating them, there is no need for now. And we are in close contact with them, we communicate with them, and the embassy is also close to them. And even psychologically they are being accompanied, so we are not at that level (of evacuating them) because the Chinese government is taking care of them," she added.

Gashumba urged Rwandans in Wuhan to take safety precautions, for example listening to advice given to them by medics, avoiding contact with infected people, and not going to prohibited places, and maintaining the culture of hygiene.

So far, she said Rwanda is implementing surveillance at the Kigali International Airport where technologies are in place to measure the temperatures of people, among other measures. There are also teams of people from the health sector who collect information from travelers to find out if they have not been in the affected areas, or been in contact with infected people.

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