Rwanda: Govt to Extend Covid-19 Testing to Hotels, Other Mass Gatherings

The Minister for Health Dr Daniel Ngamije has announced that the government is in advanced talks with various partners to look into the possibility of equipping different institutions with the capacity of testing for Covid-19 as part of the efforts to strengthen the fight against the pandemic in the country.

Ngamije said the bigger plan of decentralizing testing services is expected to begin with major hotels before it can be extended to various establishments that host a big number of people.

The Minister disclosed this while appearing on national television to among others give insights into the newly announced measures to curb the spread of the pandemic.

He was joined by several other officials including Minister of Local Government, Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, Minister of Trade and Industry Beata Habyarimana, as well as CP Jean Bosco Kabera Rwanda National Police Spokesperson.

"There is a plan to decentralize Covid-19 testing in different institutions. We are planning to start with hotels, but this is part of the bigger initiative," Ngamije said.

Once in position, he explained, it will make it easy for people who seek the services during meetings among other arrangements.

"These services are not supposed to be kept far from citizens, we want this to be close to them, so that people are encouraged to test their Covid-19 status at their convenience."

He added, "The idea is to exhaust all means that can enable us to contain this pandemic, especially in these days where it is spreading at a high rate."

The minister's comments come days after a spike in the Covid-19 cases recorded daily.

In the past five days, a total of 839 cases and ten deaths have been recorded, which Minister Ngamije described as a worrying trajectory.

He, however, related the numbers to cross border movements following the volcanic eruption in DR Congo, Uganda-based Rwandans who continue to come to return home as they flee from the current wave of the pandemic as well as laxity in implementing anti-Covid protocols.

Consequently, Minister Habyarimana pointed out that businesses continue to let their guard down, a practice that enfeebles the government's ambitions for economic recovery.

She decried that in the past days, the business operators have adapted to an "ugly" practice of adhering to the standard measures only in the presence of police and other health authorities.

"It should not be a hide and seek game with the Police and health authorities. It's our responsibility, especially businesses, to contain the pandemic," Minister Habyarimana said.

Minister Gatabazi issued a stern warning to people who continue to host house parties and also those who operate as restaurants during the day and illegally turn them into bars in the night.

On the other hand, Kabera said that penalties for those who continue to recklessly violate the rules remain in place and that no one is exempted.

Since March last year, Rwanda has recorded a total of 28,146 cases among whom 370 patients have lost the battle.

The figures result from a pool of over 1.5 million tests conducted since the outbreak of the virus.

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