Sixteen percent of the people whose antibodies were recently tested to ascertain whether they had been exposed to Covid-19 were found to have contracted the virus and beaten it without their knowledge, The New Times can reveal.
This was revealed by the Director-General of the Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana in an exclusive interview on Wednesday, January 20.
Nsanzimana explained that while the recent spike in positive cases can be blamed on the complacency of the masses during the festive season, there was also the factor of people who had contracted the virus and were asymptomatic but in the process had spread it around.
He pointed out that during the random tests conducted in Kigali, the number of those who had contracted the virus and cured of it without their knowledge was even bigger than that of the positive ones.
"Which means that there is a big number of people who contracted the virus and didn't get to know, transmitted it and today, they have recovered and are walking around. It explains the spike that we are seeing today," he said.
Prevalence among the young
Nsanzimana said that this issue was mostly prevalent among the young people whose immune system is likely to successfully deal with symptoms easily.
"In one way or another, people at an advanced age will know if they have contracted Covid-19 because they will develop symptoms. This means that while the young are moving around with the virus, their impact on other people is huge," he said.
Comparing the numbers, he said that the same antibodies testing technique, done in August, and only three percent of those tested were found to have had the virus and cured without knowing. The highest number was in Kigali markets where 4 percent.
Addressing the issue of people who test positive, are placed on the home-based care programme only for them to leave and mingle with the masses, Nsanzimana said that there was need for personal responsibility in protecting oneself and others.
He explained that to remedy this, the government was engaging community health-workers and grassroots leaders who will be involved in keeping track of the patients but also provide them with the support they need.
"They will know that there is someone in the neighbourhood who is positive not to keep track of the movements only but also to help and facilitate whenever there is need. In addition, we are rolling out bracelets in all cases that we have identified," he said.
Putting the lockdown to use
Nsanzimana touched on the Cabinet's decision to place Kigali City under lockdown saying that it was the best way to bring the increasing number of Covid-19 positive cases under control.
He pointed out that the two weeks will be used to accelerate the implementation of interventions partly by first conducting about 20,000 tests within the communities in Kigali.
"We will conduct the tests to determine what is happening beyond people walking into healthcare facilities with symptoms. By the end of the process, we expect to have more facts and data," he said.
The confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country continued to surge after 312 new infections were registered on Wednesday, January 20.
Kigali continued to be a hotspot, as it accounted for new 186 cases out of the 312 registered nationwide on Wednesday.
On the same day, five Covid-19 related deaths were registered, taking the total number of such deaths in the country to 153.
The total number of confirmed cases of the virus in the country since March 2020 when the first infection was confirmed is now 11,860.
Of these, 7,812 have recovered, while 3,895 are the active cases.